Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Br J Gen Pract. 2013 Feb;63(607):e141-8. doi: 10.3399/bjgp13X663109.

Musculoskeletal clinical assessment and treatment services at the primary-secondary care interface: an observational study.

Author information

  • 1Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Keele University, Keele and Staffordshire Rheumatology Centre, Haywood Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.



Management of musculoskeletal conditions in the UK is increasingly delivered in multidisciplinary clinical assessment and treatment services (CATS) at the primary-secondary care interface. However, there is little evidence concerning the characteristics and management of patients attending CATS.


To describe the characteristics, investigation, and treatment of adults attending a musculoskeletal CATS.


Cross-sectional analysis of cohort study baseline data from a musculoskeletal CATS in Stoke-on-Trent Primary Care Trust, UK.


All patients referred from primary care between February 2008 and June 2009 were mailed a pre-consultation questionnaire concerning pain duration, general health status, anxiety, depression, employment status, and work absence due to musculoskeletal problems. At the consultation, clinical diagnoses, body region(s) affected, investigations, and treatment were recorded.


A total of 2166 (73%) completed questionnaires were received. Chronic pain duration >1 year (55%), major physical limitation (76%), anxiety (49%), and depression (37%) were common. Of those currently employed, 516 (45%) had taken time off work in the last 6 months because of their musculoskeletal problem; 325 (29%) were unable to do their usual job. The most frequent investigations were X-rays (23%), magnetic resonance imaging (18%), and blood tests (14%): 1012 (48%) received no investigations. Injections were performed in 282 (13%) and 492 (23%) were referred to physiotherapy.


Although most patients presented with musculoskeletal problems suitable for CATS, chronic pain, physical limitation, anxiety, depression, and work disability were commonplace, highlighting the need for a biopsychosocial model of care that addresses psychological, social, and work-related needs, as well as pain and physical disability.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk