Community-based online survey on seeking care and information for lower limb pain and injury in Australia: An observational study

Jocelyn L. Bowden, Rod Lamberts, David J. Hunter, Luciano Ricardo Melo, Kathryn Mills*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives Musculoskeletal pain is a leading cause of disability globally. In geographically and socioeconomically diverse countries, such as Australia, care seeking when someone experiences musculoskeletal pain is varied and potentially influenced by their individual characteristics, access to practitioners or perceived trustworthiness of information. This study explored how consumers currently access healthcare, how well it is trusted and if sociodemographic factors influenced healthcare utilisation. Design Anonymous online observational survey. Setting Australia. Participants A convenience sample of 831 community-based individuals (18+ years). Outcome measures Descriptive analyses and generalised estimating equations were used to quantify healthcare-seeking behaviours, sources and trust of health information for (A) first-contact practitioners, (B) medical practitioners, and (C) other sources of information. Results Of the 761 respondents, 73% were females, 54% resided in capital cities. 68% of respondents had experienced pain or injury in more than one lower limb joint. Despite this, more than 30% of respondents only sought help when there had not been natural resolution of their pain. Physiotherapists had the highest odds of being seen, asked and trusted for healthcare information. The odds of seeking care from general practitioners were no higher than seeking information from an expert website. Older individuals and women exhibited higher odds of seeking, asking and trusting health information. Conclusion Intelligible and trustworthy information must be available for consumers experiencing lower limb pain. Individuals, particularly younger people, are seeking information from multiple, unregulated sources. This suggests that healthcare professionals may need to invest time and resources into improving the trustworthiness and availability of healthcare information to improve healthcare quality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere035030
    JournalBMJ Open
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2020


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