Musculoskeletal Matters 10

MUSCULOSKELETAL MATTERS Bulletin 10 In sickness and in health: shared risk factors for musculoskeletal consultations in couples Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions are the second most common condition seen in primary care Evidence exists of shared risk in couples for a range of common conditions such as: • Diabetes • Heart disease • Depression • Asthma Three proposed explanations for this are: • Shared emotion • Shared health beliefs and behaviours • Shared environment We used recorded primary care consultations to assess shared risk for MSK conditions in couples over a 1 year period. In this particular study over 27,000 patients (13,500 couples) were included with a mean age of 52 years. One member of each couple was designated the “index patient” for this analysis. Figure 1: Possible explanations of shared risk in couples Shared health behaviour Shared emotion Shared environment • Read codes were used to identify musculoskeletal consultations • Shared emotion was defined as a consultation for mood or anxiety problems by both partners over the year period • Health behaviour was defined as the number of consultations over the year period, with those in the top 20% of number of times consulted classified as frequent consulters • English Index of Multiple Deprivation was used to give an indication of the shared environment ILLNESS CONCORDANCE IN COUPLES Results • 8292 patients had consulted for a MSK condition within the 1 year period • Regression analysis showed a 22% increase in the odds of a person consulting for a MSK condition if their partner had also consulted for MSK These bulletins are designed to provide information for general practitioners, the primary care team, teachers, trainers and policy makers about musculoskeletal problems in practice.