From evidence to best practice in the management of fractures of the distal radius in adults: Working towards a research agenda

Helen H.G. Handoll, Rajan Madhok

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    Background: Fracture of the distal radius is a common clinical problem, particularly in older white women with osteoporosis. We report our work towards evidence-based and patient-centred care for adults with these injuries. Methods: We developed a systematic programme of research that built on our systematic review of the evidence of effectiveness of treatment interventions for these fractures. We devised schemata showing 'typical' care pathways and identified over 100 patient management questions. These depicted the more important decisions taken when progressing along each care pathway. We compiled a comprehensive document summarising the evidence available for each decision point from our reviews of randomised trials of treatment interventions. Using these documents, we undertook a formal and structured consultation process involving key players, including a patient representative, to obtain their views on the available evidence and to establish a research agenda. The resulting feedback was then processed and interpreted, using systematic methods. Results: Some evidence from 114 randomised trials was available for 31 of the 117 patient management questions. However, there was sufficient evidence to base some conclusions of effectiveness for particular interventions in only five of these. Though only 60% of those approached responded, the responses received from the consultation group were often comprehensive and provided important insights into treatment practice and policy. There was a clear acceptance of the aims of the project and, aside from some suggestions for the more explicit inclusion of secondary prevention and management of complications, of the care pathways scheme. Though some respondents stressed that randomised trials were not always appropriate, there was no direct overall criticism of the evidence document and underlying processes. We were able to identify important core themes that underpin management decisions and research from the feedback of the consultation exercise. Conclusions: Overall, this project is an important advance towards evidence-based and patient-centred management of adults with distal radial fractures. It exposes the serious deficiency in the available evidence but also provides a template for further action. As well as being a valuable basis for viewing and informing current practice, the insights gained from this project should inform a future research agenda.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2003


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