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  • 1 October 2018 to 31 July 2020
  • Project No: 428
  • Funding round: FR17


People with musculoskeletal pain frequently have other illnesses. The NHS is under severe pressure with more people going to hospital and having longer hospital stays. Many people in hospital for other illnesses, such as a heart attack or stroke, will already suffer from musculoskeletal pain. Management of musculoskeletal pain may not be a priority for health professionals. Yet this pain, alongside associated poor function and sleep interference, may reduce effectiveness or receipt of appropriate treatment for other illnesses. This means people with musculoskeletal pain may have extended time in hospital, and increased chance of worse outcomes from hospital stays for other illnesses.


To identify whether having musculoskeletal pain increases time spent in hospital and leads to worse outcomes after a heart attack or stroke.


We will use information from 1998-2017 collected within a large UK database of general practice records (Clinical Practice Research Datalink) linked to hospital data. We will analyse data of around 100,000 patients aged 45 years and over newly diagnosed with heart attack or stroke. These conditions are life-threatening, have a major impact on quality of life, are common reasons for going to hospital, and are of high priority for the NHS. We will identify previous consultations with a doctor by these patients for musculoskeletal pain. We will compare length of hospital stay, risk of worse hospital outcomes such as mortality, healthcare utilisation and costs, between those with pre-existing musculoskeletal pain and those without, after taking into account all other morbidities patients have. We will also investigate the link between musculoskeletal pain and likelihood of going back into hospital within 30 days of discharge. We will find out if findings vary by type of pain such as osteoarthritis or back pain, or by age.

Amount awarded: £60 000

Projects by themes

We have grouped projects under the five SPCR themes in this document

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.