Published 9/1/2010
Joshua J. Jacobs, MD

Beyond the Decade: A new future

Looking back and beyond as the Bone and Joint Decade draws to a close

At the Bone and Joint Decade Global Network Conference, held in October 2009 in Washington, D.C., healthcare professionals and patient advocates from around the world, including the leaders of many orthopaedic societies, reached the following consensus: The Decade will continue, as will many of its programs.

That plan has been further endorsed by the Board of the United States Bone and Joint Decade (USBJD), which has proven its value as a forum for the broader musculoskeletal community. In addition, the notable accomplishments of the USBJD during the past 8 years and the need for continued momentum to address the burden of disease and improve musculoskeletal health underscore the importance of continuing many of these programs.

Major accomplishments
The following five accomplishments of the USBJD are its most significant:

  • The publication of The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States: Prevalence, Societal, and Economic Cost (BMUS). Completed in partnership with the AAOS and other organizations, this valuable resource is available both in print and online. It includes supporting tools and an Executive Summary suitable for use with both the public and policymakers. Copies of BMUS were distributed to all congressional leaders and to thousands of other policymakers and were used in many advocacy activities. This resource contains chapters on spine, low back and neck pain, and spinal deformity and related conditions.
  • The establishment of a Young Investigators Initiative to increase the number of clinician-scientists. To date, the initiative has reached more than 170 participants, 77 of whom have obtained musculoskeletal research funding totaling more than $40 million.
  • The launch of the Project 100 program to increase formalized instruction in musculoskeletal medicine in medical schools. During the Decade, the percentage of medical schools that offered instruction in musculoskeletal medicine increased from less than 50 percent in 2002 to 80 percent in 2009.
  • The instruction of several public education programs to reach patients and the public at the community level. Among these programs are Fit to a T, which focuses on bone health and osteoporosis; PB&J – Protect Your Bones and Joints, a program aimed at teens and young adults; Experts in Arthritis, a public education program for people with arthritis and those who care about them; and Straighten Up America, the focal point of activities for World Spine Day (Oct. 16). More than 300 sessions have taken place nationwide, reaching more than 11,000 patients and members of the public.
  • The BJD09 Global Network Conference, an advocacy and education event. Leaders of the musculoskeletal community, policymakers, and government officials assembled in Washington, D.C. Many advocated on Capitol Hill to raise awareness, improve access to care, and increase funding for research, prevention, and rehabilitation. The forum presented the most important advances in major areas such as technology and innovation, and resulted in a roadmap for the future.

Moving beyond 2011
Plans for the USBJD beyond 2011 include a modified name to reflect its continuation and purpose as an alliance of musculoskeletal organizations, and a focus on the following four specific areas:

Advocacy and awareness: a focus on promoting science, technology, and innovation; a patient advocate training initiative; and an expansion of public education programs.

Access to high-quality musculoskeletal health care: development of a program to promote uniform opportunity for diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders; expansion of the Project 100 musculoskeletal medical education initiative; and a particular focus on primary care postgraduate training programs and allied health.

Data assessment and dissemination: expansion of efforts to drive educational programs and workforce issues; to influence policymakers and decision-making by providers and suppliers; to provide trend reports; and to illustrate progress and influence future directions.

Programs and forums: development of interdisciplinary forums on issues of common concern and interest focused on making advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. This area includes continuation of the Young Investigators Initiative and National Action Week.

Mission and leadership
The USBJD’s mission will remain the same: to promote and facilitate collaboration among the public, patients, and organizations to improve bone and joint health through education, research, and advocacy.

At the most recent board meeting of the USBJD, Kimberly Templeton, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon who represents the Mid-America Orthopaedic Association, was elected president-elect. She will be the first president to lead the USBJD beyond the Decade.

Joshua J. Jacobs, MD, is the current president of the United States Bone and Joint Decade. He can be reached at joshua.jacobs@rushortho.com