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Community pharmacists to help SA Arthritis sufferers reduce pain with innovative new program

21 May 2013    

Three hundred and fifty thousand South Australians living with arthritis could benefit from an innovative new supported self-management program designed to reduce the pain associated with the crippling condition.

Under the program, pharmacies across South Australia are being trained to deliver a new four week extensive support service called Take Action on Pain, which during the pilot significantly improved the quality of life and wellbeing of arthritis sufferers.

The program pilot study conducted in 2012 with the University of Adelaide, saw eighty per cent of participants reported their pain had improved as a result of the program while over 83% reported an improvement in sleep quality.

Seventy per cent of participants reported their activity level changed as a result of the program and 73% reported their weight had changed reduced as a result of the program.

Take Action on Pain forms part of a new working partnership between Arthritis South Australia and community pharmacies - the Arthritis Aware Pharmacy Program - and is being implemented into selected pharmacies across the State.

The program also provides pharmacies with training and resources to ensure quality information and support is available to people with arthritis and associated conditions.

It’s been developed by Arthritis South Australia in conjunction with researchers at the University of Adelaide and the community pharmacists themselves.

The program will now see local pharmacies provide front line health services to arthritis sufferers for the first time helping them reduce pain through a combination of effective medication management, exercise, healthy eating, increasing support networks and relaxation techniques.

Every person who joins the program will receive three one on one appointments with the pharmacy starting with an initial appointment to assess their pain and current lifestyle as well as a clinical review.

During the initial appointment, a tailored program is developed by the pharmacy with the arthritis sufferer including agreed actions and goals to support them to address the issues contributing to their pain.

Research commissioned by Arthritis SA found that pharmacies were one of the first places arthritis sufferers turn to find out more about their condition and seek assistance with reducing pain.

Dr Simon Burnet, Medical Director of Arthritis SA, said the program was developed so people living with arthritis had greater access to the help and support they need and so they were able to receive this assistance from a trusted source.”

Dr Burnet will present the program to a national audience at the Australian Rheumatology Conference in Perth this week.

This program has already received very strong support from the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (South Australian Branch).

“This is an excellent program that provides pharmacists and their staff with additional resources and training to help adequately address pain prevention strategies and is a great addition to the pharmacist’s extensive knowledge of medication related issue,” said Mr Ian Todd, President, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (South Australian Branch).

South Australia has a much larger proportion of the population living with arthritis compared to other states - one in four people in the State is now living with arthritis and thirty per cent are unaware of the type of arthritis they’re suffering from.

Arthritis South Australia CEO Julie Black said the program could have a huge impact on improving the quality of life of South Australians and eventually Australians living with arthritis if the program is rolled out nationally.

“It recognises the key role played by the community pharmacy in primary health care with selected pharmacists across South Australia currently being trained to deliver the program through an online training portal developed by Arthritis SA, said Ms Black.

By 2020, the prevalence of arthritis among South Australians aged 18 years and above is set to reach 30 per cent if the current trends continue– this means 425,000 South Australians will be living with arthritis.
“Arthritis SA is committed to creating a better understanding of arthritis in the community and increasing the level of support available to arthritis sufferers as prevalence of the condition increases,” said Ms Black.

“People from all walks of life and all ages are living with arthritis – it’s not just older people as the community tend to think.

“Community based support is vital in order to effectively assist people living with the condition and help them manage any associated pain.”

To register your interest in using the program and to find an Arthritis Aware pharmacist in your area, contact Arthritis SA on 8379 5711 or visit

Simon Hatcher on (08) 8412 4100 or

Note: Interviews are available with the following:

  • Arthritis South Australia CEO Julie Black
  • Mr Ian Todd , President, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (SA Branch)
  • Dr Simon Burnet, Medical Director of Arthritis SA, Pharmacist, National Pharmacy, Gawler Place,

About Arthritis SA

Arthritis SA strives to provide access to the best health and quality of life for people with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions.

A not for profit organisation, Arthritis SA promotes awareness of the challenges facing people with arthritis across the community, and to leaders in business, industry and government.

Arthritis SA also funds research into potential causes and possible cures as well as better ways to live with arthritis.

For more information, visit