Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Study protocol

The epidemiology of polymyalgia rheumatica in primary care: a research protocol

Sara Muller1*, Samantha Hider1, Toby Helliwell1, Joanne Bailey1, Kevin Barraclough2, Louise Cope1, Bhaskar Dasgupta3, Rebecca Foskett4, Rhian Hughes1, Zoe Mayson1, Charlotte Purcell1, Edward Roddy1, Simon Wathall1, Irena Zwierska1 and Christian D Mallen1

Author Affiliations

1 Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Primary Care Sciences, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK

2 Painswick Surgery, Hoyland House, Painswick, Gloucestershire, GL6 6RD, UK

3 Southend University Hospital, Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Prittlewell Chase, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 ORY, UK

4 Primary Care Research West Midlands North, Unit 2, Badhan Court, Telford, TF1 5QX, UK

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2012, 13:102  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-102

Published: 15 June 2012



Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) is the commonest inflammatory condition seen in older patients in primary care. To date, however, research has been focused on secondary care cohorts rather than primary care where many patients are exclusively managed. This two year prospective inception cohort study of PMR patients will enable us to understand the full spectrum of this condition.


Patients diagnosed with PMR in primary care will be identified via Read codes and mailed a series of postal questionnaires over a two-year period to assess their levels of pain, stiffness and functioning, as well as medication usage and other health-related and socio-demographic characteristics. In addition, participants will be asked for permission to link their survey data to their general practice electronic medical record and to national mortality and cancer registers.


This will be the first large-scale, prospective, observational cohort of PMR patients in primary care. The combination of survey data with medical records and national registers will allow for a full investigation of the natural history and prognosis of this condition in the primary care setting, in which the majority of patients are treated, but where little research on the treatment and outcome of consultation has been undertaken. This will provide information that may lead to improved primary care management of PMR.

Polymyalgia rheumatica; Primary health care; Cohort studies; Health surveys; Medical records