Some things are better shared than being kept to yourself.

Recently I attended a vibrant and very interesting meeting hosted by Keele University’s Impact Accelerator Unit under the banner of Keele Deal Health – Musculoskeletal (MSK) Community of Practice. A lengthy title, but the information and resources coming from it are worthy of the name. So informative were the presentations I want to share them with you.

What better place than PEP Talk Extra than to introduce Patient Explanation Package for Osteoarthritis (PEP-OA) – a programme to increase the understanding of osteoarthritis and overcome the misunderstanding surrounding the condition.

PEP-OA is a resource comprising an animation and information leaflet. A long time in its development the short video animation and all accompanying materials is a perfect example of co-design and co-production utilising lived experience partners throughout. The animation is available to view at Osteoarthritis and You – Keele University - , while you can access the leaflet via the Keele.Health platform at What is Osteoarthritis?

These are a must for all patients, the public and healthcare professionals alike. So many access options. Check out their website at and Twitter @KeeleIAU.

The welcome page of Keele.Health has two points of access – Public Resources and Healthcare Professionals Resources. Don’t be put off by the separate headings; it’s all very valuable information. The PEP-OA animation and leaflet can be found within the Osteoarthritis section along with a more in-depth guide book; another must read. Housed in the mental health section is the ‘Bee Free’ bank of hugely valuable information for all patients. I can’t recommend it more highly; another joint venture involving patients and public.

What else to share? Back in June 2022 NHS England launched a number of documents under the title of Decision Support Tools. Covering four MSK conditions of Hip Osteoarthritis, Knee Osteoarthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Dupuytren’s Contracture – I needed some explanation too – these tools are intended to increase patients’ knowledge and understanding of the conditions and promote shared decision making between patients and their clinicians, develop a more personalised care approach and contribute to supported self-management.

As a user of hip and knee osteoarthritis services over the past two decades, these support tools are very useful and helpful both to service users and service providers. Take a look at them. There is also an animation available with these tools, which you can view at NHS Decision Support Tools - YouTube.

This video is primarily aimed at clinicians to promote the use of the support tools. Check it out anyway; it’s very informative, but a specific patients’ and public version will be available shortly.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s more. The next presentation focused on low back pain. As the world moves forward at pace and new digital solutions appear almost daily we were introduced to the SelfStart “friend in my pocket”, but first let me take you back a few years to the journey from STarTBack to SelfStart.

STartBack is a questionnaire-based app which enables clinicians and patients to match treatment packages based on the patient’s risk of ongoing pain. The patient’s risk is identified as being low, medium or high, and for low and medium risk, the patient is offered access to SelfBack. Exercises and advice can be provided specific to the patient, and this is based on the responses given to questions. Evidence is gathered, and the patient is monitored continuously.

As with any innovation evidence gathering allows things being refined. This has led to the current app, SelfStart being rolled out across the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care System, alongside The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. It’s so impactful, and led to the “friend in my pocket” comment from one patient utilising this exciting innovation.

This brief blog cannot do justice to the subject; you can find more at IAU knowledge mobilisation projects - Keele University and at SelfBack

Wherever you get your information, each topic I have mentioned is well worth pursuing. The work being undertaken, which is engaging and involving patients and public – just like the world of technology and apps – is gathering pace. It’s a great place to be, contributing to the future.

Something that research and researchers thrive on is the gathering evidence. You can provide feedback on the PEP-OA animation at short survey on osteoarthritis video about osteoarthritis – Keele University.