Haxby Abbott

Making a difference to people with chronic joint conditions.

Funding from the Otago Medical Research Foundation’s Jack Thomson Bequest is helping to make a difference to people with chronic joint conditions.

The Foundation has been supporting studies by Professor Haxby Abbott, whose research interests lie in better care for people with bone, joint, and movement problems.

Professor Abbott is the Director of the Centre for Musculoskeletal Outcomes Research, a multi-campus research network based in the Dunedin School of Medicine Department of Surgical Sciences. His research expertise is in clinical trials of treatments for joint health problems, as well as economic evaluation of cost-effectiveness.

His research on treatments for hip and knee osteoarthritis has been taken up by the Dunedin Hospital Orthopaedic Surgery Department, through the establishment of ‘the Joint Clinic.’ This aims to meet the needs of people whose osteoarthritis is not severe enough to qualify for joint replacement surgery.

Professor Abbott’s most recent OMRF-funded projects, alongside Dr Ross Wilson, include a study of the health impact of osteoarthritis on health-loss and a study of chronic opioid use following joint replacement surgery.

Some results from this research show that knee osteoarthritis has a broader impact on people than simply pain and physical function; it also has a significant impact on peoples’ work and family roles, emotional health, and vitality. This information can be used to estimate the broader impacts on people’s health of knee osteoarthritis.

They also examined chronic opioid medication use, which is at crisis point in some countries, finding that many people remained chronic opioid users even many months to years after their joint replacement.

Professor Abbott says having the support of the Foundation has meant they have been able to improve their ability to conduct large-scale national research. 

"Having scaled-up studies is important because the results clearly show magnitude of a problem from a national-level perspective, giving the results greater context to policy-makers and national non-governmental organisations to prioritise problems and formulate solutions."

"As a researcher, it means we can ask big ‘what if’ questions about the potential health and economic effects of a range of alternative solutions, and the future effects of failing to act, to help the health system make better decisions."

"And ultimately this will lead to better care strategies for people with osteoarthritis, better quality of life for people with this disease, and better value for money for the health care system and society."