Objective: To identify and describe the extent, nature, characteristics, and impact of primary care-based models of care (MoCs) for osteoarthritis (OA) that have been developed and/or evaluated.
Design: Six electronic databases were searched from 2010 to May 2022. Relevant data were extracted and collated for narrative synthesis.
Results: Sixty-three studies pertaining to 37 discrete MoCs from 13 countries were included, of which 23 (62%) could be classified as OA management programmes (OAMPs) comprising a self-management intervention to be delivered as a discrete package. Four models (11%) focussed on enhancing the initial consultation between a patient presenting with OA at the first point of contact into a local health system and the clinician. Emphasis was placed on educational training for general practitioners (GPs) and allied healthcare professionals delivering this initial consultation. The remaining 10 MoCs (27%) detailed integrated care pathways of onward referral to specialist secondary orthopaedic and rheumatology care within local healthcare systems. The majority (35/37; 95%) were developed in high-income countries and 32/37 (87%) targeted hip/and or knee OA. Frequently identified model components included GP-led care, referral to primary care services and multidisciplinary care. The models were predominantly ‘one-size fits all’ and lacked individualised care approaches. A minority of MoCs, 5/37 (14%) were developed using underlying frameworks, three (8%) of which incorporated behaviour change theories, while 13/37 (35%) incorporated provider training. Thirty-four of the 37 models (92%) were evaluated. Outcome domains most frequently reported included clinical outcomes, followed by system- and provider-level outcomes. While there was evidence of improved quality of OA care associated with the models, effects on clinical outcomes were mixed.
Conclusion: There are emerging efforts internationally to develop evidence-based models focused on non-surgical primary care OA management. Notwithstanding variations in healthcare systems and resources, future research should focus on model development alignment with implementation science frameworks and theories, key stakeholder involvement including patient and public representation, provision of training and education for providers, treatment individualisation, integration and coordination of services across the care continuum and
incorporation of behaviour change strategies to foster long-term adherence and self-management.