Musculoskeletal researchers are working to improve access to educational material for clinicians, and patients with musculoskeletal conditions, in a new SHP-funded project.

The team are scouring the literature to create a series of resources with clear, consistent messaging about how to best treat common musculoskeletal conditions, that can then be adapted for different conditions and local situations.

“We know there’s still a huge gap between knowledge about musculoskeletal disorders, and what happens in practice and treatment,” said Professor Manuela Ferreira, co-Principal Investigator and Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of Bone and Joint Research at the University of Sydney. “But there’s no guidance about how to address those gaps.”

Dr Jillian Eyles, a physiotherapist and Research Fellow at the Institute who is working on the project, hopes that, by using the literature to pinpoint the most effective messaging, treatment of musculoskeletal disorders can be more closely aligned to what the research says works.

“We’re looking at the literature, seeing what kinds of messages are proven to work – including the messages for healthcare professionals about musculoskeletal health, and what messages the healthcare professionals should give their patients – and then using these messages to create a template resource that encompasses a broad range of musculoskeletal conditions,” said Dr Eyles.

The idea is that, once created, clinicians, including those in remote and regional areas, will be able to tailor the resource for their specific populations and common presentations

“If you increase access to the right information, it can make a huge different to the lives of the patients and especially the clinicians,” said Professor Ferreira. “We work with a lot of clinicians in rural Australia who lack access to the information, but also the research centres.”

The project team has received a 2-year grant from Sydney Health Partners as part of the Medical Research Future Fund Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) Initiative.

“We’ve spent the first year reviewing the literature; next year we’ll be creating the resource, and then going out and testing its use with our research team,” said Dr Eyles.

The resource will be trialled in five clinical settings with different musculoskeletal conditions in different populations – including older populations, clinicians delivering care remotely to remote populations, as well as in culturally and linguistically-diverse populations.

 “What’s really important about this study is that it reflects the real world of musculoskeletal health – so not just focusing on physiotherapists, or GPs, but covering lots of different disciplines, and care pathways,” said Dr Eyles.