Centre of Expertise Urban Vitality

Interdisciplinary Care for Chronic Joint Disorders

One-third of Amsterdam residents are faced with multiple health conditions, including chronic joint disorders, and the numbers continue to increase. The Interdisciplinary Care for Chronic Joint Disorders Professorship, headed up by Martin van der Esch, is exploring the relationship between chronic joint disorders and decline in everyday functioning.

People with chronic joint disorders such as polyarthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis and gout) and arthrosis (osteoarthritis) tend to struggle with multiple health conditions and a decline in everyday functioning. The combination of high cholesterol, psychosocial problems, smoking, alcohol, an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise constitutes a significant risk factor for a decline in functioning.

Almost one-third of Amsterdam residents have 2 or more chronic conditions. Most of these people are elderly people, low-skilled workers and women from non-Western backgrounds. We also know that a quarter of Amsterdam residents don’t get enough exercise. The professorship aims to find out how lifestyle factors can be changed so that people can cope better with chronic joint disorders.

Headed up by Martin van der Esch, the professorship focuses on preventing and reducing complaints resulting from chronic joint disorders. Sufficient exercise and an optimum diet don’t just increase fitness levels but also contribute to improved functioning. Van der Esch works with an interdisciplinary team of students and researchers from AUAS, Amsterdam UMC and Reade.

The professorship aims to improve the knowledge and skills of healthcare practitioners and lecturers from the Faculty of Health. This will enable them to help people with chronic joint disorders to retain and increase their autonomy in everyday life.

In order to achieve this goal, the professorship focuses on the following questions:

  • What factors impede the everyday functioning of people with chronic joint disorders?
  • How can those impediments to everyday functioning that are amenable to influence be reduced through interventions (including interdisciplinary interventions)?
  • What underlying mechanisms need to be studied?
  • What are the wishes and needs of people with chronic joint disorders in order that they might achieve an optimum outcome in terms of their everyday functioning, quality of life and participation in society?
  • What factors are predictive of an optimum level of independent day-to-day functioning following joint replacement surgery?
  • What role can digital technology, self-management and shared decision-making play in optimising care to help people to function independently at home?

Amsterdam residents with chronic joint disorders, such as arthrosis of the knee or hip and polyarthritis, form the target group, which also includes Amsterdam residents who have undergone or are scheduled to undergo joint replacement surgery.

The professorship falls within the Faculty of Health at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and the Urban Vitality research programme, which focuses on the health issues that come with life in a big city.

The professorship perfectly reflects this brief. In addition, these institutions are all characterised by their interdisciplinary approach to health-related issues.

The professorship works closely with:

  • other professorships within AUAS;
  • Reade, the centre for rehabilitation and rheumatology;
  • Amsterdam UMC (specifically the Rehabilitation and Rheumatology departments);
  • university chairs and research centres abroad, including at the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney.

Published by  Faculty of Health 20 July 2023