Minority women with arthritis-related knee pain and their healthcare providers found additional information on medical care costs and the impact treatment might have on quality of life and work productivity to be useful, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research.

The goal of the study was to investigate whether a decision-making tool might be beneficial to African American and Latina women with arthritis when choosing a treatment option for knee pain.

The researchers conducted 4 focus groups involving 12 Latina and 9 African American women who had had knee pain for more than 3 months (age, ≥45). An additional 2 focus groups were conducted with 14 healthcare providers treating minority women with arthritis-related knee pain.

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Patients were asked about their pain levels, short- and long-term experience with pain, type of healthcare professionals they had consulted, and the impact of their knee pain on their daily lives. Patients were then presented with a shared decision-making tool that included 11 different treatments, as well as potential quality of life improvement, costs, and loss of productivity associated with 3 different treatment pathways.

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Most women indicated that the decision-making tool provided more transparency regarding the economic feasibility of each treatment option. Many cited pain severity, the ability to participate in daily activities, the burden on family members, and cost of care as key factors they would consider when deciding on treatment. Although numerous patients and providers thought the cost details provided by the tool might be too complex, overall both groups considered the information valuable.

Study limitations include the inability to generalize to a broader population.

“Our discussions with both patients and physicians demonstrate that patients can make more informed decisions with information about the estimated costs of care and potential effects on productivity,” noted the study authors.

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Gaskin DJ, Karmarkar TD, et al. The potential role of cost and quality of life in treatment decisions for arthritis-related knee pain for African American and Latina women [published online April 12, 2019]. Arthritis Care Res. doi:10.1002/acr.23903