About 10% of men and 18% of women 60 year and older suffer from symptomatic osteoarthritis (OA) . Among people aged 75 or older it is the third most common reason to visit a primary care physician . Due to an increasing life-expectancy as well as a constant increase in the Body-Mass-Index (BMI), which constitutes a principal risk factor for OA , the incidence of OA is expected to rise in upcoming years .
Usually, the General Practitioner (GP) is not only the first care provider but also sees the patient regularly during the course of disease . Moreover, the GP is the physician who is most familiar with the social background of the patients. These socio-economic and psychosocial factors contribute substantially to the Quality of Life (QoL) of patients [6–8]. It is known that the treatment plans of GPs and specialists are quite similar, but also that there is a broad range of possible approaches to the disease by GPs [2, 5, 9]. However, previous findings indicate that GPs as well as specialists seem to have a perspective that is dominated by physical aspects of OA. Psychosocial aspects and their influence on QoL seem to be underestimated . Moreover, it is known that radiographic changes and subjective complaints show very poor correlation, therefore it could be assumed that their contribution to physicians assessment of patients QoL may be limited. However, the extent to which psychosocial and radiological findings influence GPs assessment remains unclear. Interestingly, QoL is coming more and more into the focus of health care professionals and represents an increasingly important outcome parameter in many clinical trials . Different questionnaires have been developed and validated to assess the impact of joint diseases on QoL. Assessing QoL in patients suffering from OA the most frequently used instruments are the McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) [12, 13], the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scale (AIMS) [14, 15] and the Lequesne-Index .
WOMAC and Lequesne-Index both focus on physical effects of arthritis on mobility and physical activity and are limited to the lower limbs (hip and knee). The AIMS questionnaire originally developed by Meenan et al. in 1980 for rheumatoid arthritis is a more comprehensive tool, which includes in 78 items the five dimensions physical, affect, symptom, social interaction and role . In 1997, Guillemin et al. developed a shorter version, the AIMS2-SF, containing 26 items, to reduce time effort and to increase acceptance among patients. In several validation studies, the AIMS2-SF, which is recently available in a German version , has proven to be a reliable and valid instrument to asses QoL of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and OA [17–19] and. Due to its comprehensiveness the AIMS2-SF gives insight into different dimensions of QoL in OA.
The aim of our study was to examine which dimensions of QoL of osteoarthritis patients are considered by GPs. To reveal factors influencing GPs' picture of patients QoL we estimated relationship to different assessment tools, AIMS2-SF, WOMAC, and x-ray.