Musculoskeletal Decision Support Tools

Decision support tools are a set of questions and answers to help people living with a health condition make informed choices about their treatments. They are used together with a healthcare professional to support a conversation, taking into account the context of people’s lives, and not assuming that there is a single ‘best’ option for everyone.

Versus Arthritis has produced a suite of support tools to help people with back, shoulder, hip and knee pain. They were developed by Versus Arthritis with support from the Primary Care Centre Versus Arthritis at Keele University and funding from NHS England.

Endorsement statement for resource producer (E244)

Decision Support Tools for use in primary care by people with Musculoskeletal Conditions (Knee problems, Hip problems, Shoulder problems, Back problems and Sciatica)

These decision support tools accurately reflect recommendations in the NICE guidance on osteoarthritis and low back pain and sciatica in over 16s. They also support statements 1–7 in the NICE quality standard for osteoarthritis and statements 2–7 in the NICE quality standard for low back pain and sciatica in over 16s.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
December 2020

What tools are available?

There are eight tools, all available to download as PDFs:

How to use the tools

The tools are designed to support consultations between people and their healthcare professionals. They encourage people to think about what types of support they need to help them with their musculoskeletal health problem.

People can use these to prepare for appointments, during appointments, or both.

Each tool sets out the treatment options for that condition and summarises what is known about the potential benefits and risks of each option. They are intended to facilitate discussion, not to guide people towards a particular option.

How the tools were developed

The tools were co-designed by an Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Versus Arthritis, which included people with arthritis, general practitioners, physiotherapists, policymakers, academics and decision support experts.

A team at Keele University summarised the current evidence and national guidance for each topic area. The series of evidence summaries they produced to underpin each of the decision support tools are available to review:

The draft tools were reviewed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy (CSP), and the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA), and were tested in clinical practice at the Pennine MSK Clinic in Oldham. All the feedback was considered by the Expert Advisory Group in preparing the final versions.