- Engaging body and mind in fighting pain and disability in muscles and joints
Musculoskeletal problems have historically been treated from a narrow biomedical perspective. There is now widespread recognition that muscle and joint disease occurs within a broad biological, psychological and social framework. The most important risk factors for poor outcome are usually not biomedical, but psychosocial in nature. Recognising the interdependency between multiple bio-psycho-social factors, our research will include investigation into ways in which addressing risk factors from multiple health domains can improve health outcomes, and integrating healthcare interventions within each individual’s ‘whole person perspective’ can empower people to better realise their health potential. For example, by combining exercise with improved knowledge and coping strategies about handling muscle and joint disease can improve an individual’s self-efficacy, and quality of life.
- Emphasizing physical activity and exercise as treatment for pain and activity limitation in musculoskeletal conditions
Physical activity and exercise can be effective in preventing and treating muscle and joint disease. Despite this, many people with musculoskeletal problems refrain from being physically active and many health professionals still advise patients to limit their physical activity. People who exercise despite pain have greater confidence in the ability of their muscles and joints to tolerate activities of daily living. And counter-intuitively, exercising and keeping active reduces the pain. Research into what type and dose of exercise training is most effective and the circumstances in which it must be carried out is a key focus of the Center. Furthermore, researchers in the Center have a strong background in exercise physiology and are actively investigating how the environments in which people find themselves most of the day, such as schools and workplaces, can promote both general physical activity and exercise training.
- Partnering with the primary health care sector and workplaces to translate evidence into best clinical and occupational health practice to maintain and improve musculoskeletal health and work ability
Clinicians in primary care (general practitioners, physiotherapists and chiropractors) rarely participate in research and there is a need for greater adherence to evidence-based, coherent interventions for patients with muscle and joint disease. Good Life with osteoArthritis in Denmark (GLA:D, www.glaid.dk) is an example of how to successfully implement evidence-based clinical guidelines in primary health care practice. Another example is where practising Danish chiropractors together with the Danish regions fund research, quality development and postgraduate education with the assistance of the Nordic Institute of Chiropractic and Clinical Biomechanics (NIKKB), located at the SDU campus.
Building on this knowledge and experience, our research will be targeted at similar initiatives for other patient and professional groups. We will focus on how the primary sector can be more involved in research concerning muscle and joint disease, how knowledge should be communicated to patients and clinicians to improve shared decision- making, and how the most appropriate support for people with muscle and joint disorders can be delivered.
Work disability and isolation from family and friends are common consequences for people with muscle and joint disease. Various health promotion programs at the workplace - including exercise and physical activity- have been shown to prevent or relieve problems with muscles and joints. More research into the prevention of work disability for people who experience muscle and joint disease is underway with a particular focus on how primary care clinicians can become more involved in preventing both short-term and long-term sick leave.
The overall research program will encompass a number of themes and flagship projects. It will bring the requisite knowledge and competencies together from within the Center and attract the brightest PhD students and post doctoral talent from other national and international research centers.