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Research – Arthritis Action

Why do we fund research?

We fund research projects undertaken by universities in the field of arthritis and lifestyle. This helps us to continually improve our offering to our members and ensure that what we do is based on evidence. It also means we can help the community by adding to the knowledge base in the field of arthritis. We are currently funding one research project on the dietary aspect of the Programme.

We have many comments from members on how our Programme and the diet in particular, helps reduce their arthritis symptoms. We want the clinical evidence to support this to be scientifically assessed. We have commissioned the University of Kent to undertake a study on how diet can affect the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Preliminary results from the study were presented at the Nutrition Society conference in July 2014. A poster was published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (Volume 73, Issue OCE3, 2014). To view the poster click here.


Current Research

University of Kent research project  a Research Study into the Effectiveness of the Nutritional Element of Arthritis Action’s Programme.

The University has designed an intervention study which uses a food frequency questionnaie and arthritis impact questionnaire  to record nutritional intake and correlate them with symptoms of arthritis to give a subjective view of the efficacy of diet on arthritis. At the same time they want to record objective data by taking blood samples from some participants and analysing an array of biomarkers for the signs of inflammation found in osteoarthritis.

The data collection and analysis phase of the project is underway, with results due towards the end of 2014. Preliminary results were presented at the Nutrition Society conference in July 2014. A poster was published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (Volume 73, Issue OCE3, 2014). To view the poster click here.

These results will be promoted at an international scientific conference and published in a relevant scientific journal. In this way we will be adding to the knowledge base about arthritis while ensuring we are giving evidence based advice to our members.

London Metropolitan University research project to assess the validity of Arthritis Action’s 7-Day Food Diary with a weighed food diary.

This project validated the 7-Day Food Diary that our dietitian uses during a nutritional consultation.We want to ensure that the method we use for recording food intake is the most reliable available. We asked London Metropolitan University to undertake the study.

The final results of the research study showed that reporting from the food diary was as accurate as the ‘gold standard’ reporting which is the result we wanted to validate the diary. This means we can use it with complete confidence that it is ‘doing the job’. Members have also said that it is very easy to use and is much simpler than the old style food diary.

As a by-product of the analysis the study showed that the nutrient intake of the participants is “healthier” than the average UK population intake. Percentage intake of energy from fat and in particular saturated fats is favourably lower, and fibre intake is higher. The intake of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and Vitamin C is also higher than the average UK population, which indicates that the participants’ diet is high in fruit and vegetables.

Generally, intake of micronutrients for the participants met the Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) with the exception of Vitamin D. Vitamin D intake was similar to intake for the general population at 3.3ug/d but was lower than the recommended level of 10 ug/d. As the majority of Vitamin D comes from sunlight, the assessment of dietary intake for Vitamin D remains controversial.

The researchers from London Metropolitan University presented this study at the Nutrition Society Conference in July 2014 and will be publishing their complete findings in a scientific journal in due course.

Become involved in research

At the moment we are not recruiting to any research project. However, if you are interested in getting involved and participating in any future projects please email your details to

University of Kent Research Study

The efficacy of a Mediterranean-type diet on symptoms of osteoarthritis


Overcoming the Challenges by Spotlight Market Research

People with arthritis feel isolated, scared about the future and don’t want to ask family, friends or doctors for help, according to new research commissioned by Arthritis Action.

Arthritis – Overcoming the Challenges by Spotlight Market Research, surveyed more than 770 people with arthritis. Over half of those interviewed feel they need to take charge of their condition because the NHS is over-stretched.

A third of respondents said they feel doctors, the NHS and the government aren’t doing enough to help people with arthritis.

A respondent with osteoarthritis said, “My family complain and say, ‘go and see the doctor mum,’ but I know there is no point.”

Another commented, “I don’t bother with the doctor any more, they just give you painkillers”.

One in three reported feeling low or depressed. Many stated that they felt arthritis was judged more widely as an unattractive, often age-related, condition of little importance. More than half of respondents under 55 said they were scared about the future and felt family, friends and their employer didn’t understand what it was like to be in constant pain.

Shortages in physiotherapy appointments or pain clinics in the NHS are perceived to be part of the problem, alongside delays in diagnosis for people who have newly developed arthritis.

There are around 10million people in the UK living with arthritis[1], making it the most prevalent chronic health condition in the country. That figure is predicted to rise to 17million by 2030[2]. One in five GP appointments are for musculoskeletal problems and the NHS spends over £5billion a year on arthritis and relat… more

Commenting on the report’s findings, Arthritis Action’s Chief Executive, Shantel Irwin, said it is time for the impact of arthritis on individuals and services to be fully recognised:

“Arthritis continues to languish as the Cinderella condition among chronic diseases. This report confirms that people with arthritis feel despondent about the medical help and personal support available to them, which affects their ability to take control of their condition.

“Research shows that a supported self-management approach, like that offered by Arthritis Action, including exercise, weight and pain management, and healthy eating, can significantly improve people’s quality of life.

“As the number of people living with arthritis rises year on year, it’s time for a step change in the way we view and treat arthritis and we want to see the NHS and charities working together to support more people to self-manage their condition.”

Arthritis Action, formerly known as The Arthritic Association, has relaunched in June 2014, offering hands-on help, proven to combat arthritis pain through self-management and lifestyle.

Alpa Virdi, Director of Spotlight Market Research, commented that health professionals acknowledge the importance of emotional wellbeing in managing arthritis:

“There is increasing recognition by GPs that preventing social isolation is an important part of patients’ management of arthritis. Health professionals we interviewed agreed that counselling, therapy and social support services are lacking and need to be better integrated with medical care.

“For the most effective management and the best chance of preventing disability caused by arthritis, all organisations from the NHS to voluntary groups, charities and individuals themselves need to work together and co-ordinate their services.”

The report recommends a range of social and physical activities, support programmes, and talking therapies to help reduce feelings of isolation.

Additionally, the report identifies better information, help with life-planning, and access to low or no-cost physical activities as important in supporting the emotional wellbeing of people with arthritis.

[1] Figures from

[2] Data from

[3] Data from

Arthritis – Overcoming the Challenges by Spotlight Market Research

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