Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Comparison of general practitioners and rheumatologists' prescription patterns for patients with knee osteoarthritis

Pascal Richette1*, Pascal Hilliquin2, Philippe Bertin3, Paolo Carni4, Véronique Berger5 and Marc Marty56

Author Affiliations

1 Univ Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Lariboisière, Fédération de Rhumatologie, 75010, Paris, France

2 Service de Rhumatologie, Centre hospitalier Sud Francilien, Corbeil-Essonnes, France

3 Service de Rhumatologie, Hôpital Dupuytren, Limoges, France

4 Service de Biométrie, Cenbiotech et Ceren, Dijon, France

5 Nukleus, Département Etudes Cliniques, Paris, France

6 Université Paris 12, UFR médicale, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Service de Rhumatologie, Hôpital Henri Mondor, Créteil, France

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2011, 12:72  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-72

Published: 12 April 2011



To compare the prescription modalities of general practitioners (GPs) and rheumatologists (RHs) for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA) and to determine correlates with prescription of low-dose NSAIDs.


This observational, prospective, national survey was carried out among a national representative sample of GPs (n = 808) and RHs (n = 134). Each physician completed a medical questionnaire for the 2 most recent patients fulfilling the ACR criteria for knee OA.


GPs and RHs included 1,570 and 251 patients, respectively. Mean pain level of the knee (on a VAS, 0-100 mm) was greater for GP patients than for RH patients (49.8 ± 16.3 vs. 46.2 ± 17.1 mm, respectively; p < 0.01). As compared with patients of RHs, those of GPs more frequently had another joint affected by OA: 71.2% vs. 63.7% (p < 0.0001) and more often had hypertension and diabetes mellitus (p < 0.05).

As compared with RHs, GPs more frequently prescribed low-dose NSAIDs (p < 0.0001), oral NSAIDs (p < 0.05), and topical NSAIDs (p < 0.0001) but less frequently symptomatic slow-acting drugs for OA (p < 0.01). Moreover, GPs more frequently recommended rehabilitation (p < 0.01) and loss of weight (p < 0.0001). Logistic regression analysis revealed an association of low-dose NSAIDs prescription and prescription by GPs, prescription of topical NSAIDs, no prescription of oral NSAIDs or coxibs and no intra-articular injection of steroids.


This study identified speciality-related variability in some aspects of the management of knee OA. The clinical profile of patients with knee OA differed between GPs and RHs.