SAGE Journals

Racial and ethnic differences in the pharmacologic management of osteoarthritis: rapid systematic review

Posted on 2022-07-01 - 00:10

Racial and ethnic disparities in osteoarthritis (OA) patients’ disease experience may be related to marked differences in the utilization and prescription of pharmacologic treatments.


The main objective of this rapid systematic review was to evaluate studies that examined race/ethnic differences in the use of pharmacologic treatments for OA.

Data sources and methods:

A literature search (PubMed and Embase) was ran on 25 February 2022. Studies that evaluated race/ethnic differences in the use of OA pharmacologic treatments were included. Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts and abstracted data from full-text articles. Preferred Reporting Items of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed.


The search yielded 3880 titles, and 17 studies were included in this review. African Americans and Hispanics were more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to use prescription non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for OA. However, compared to non-Hispanic Whites with OA, African Americans and Hispanics with OA were less likely to receive a prescription for cyclooxygenase-2-selective NSAIDs and less likely to report the use of joint health supplements (i.e. glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate). There were minimal/no significant race/ethnic differences in the patient-reported use of the following OA therapies: acetaminophen, opioids, and other complementary/alternative medicines (vitamins, minerals, and herbs). There were also no significant race differences in the receipt of intra-articular therapies (i.e. glucocorticoid or hyaluronic acid). However, there is limited evidence to suggest that African Americans may be less likely than Whites to receive opioids and intra-articular therapies in some OA patient populations.


This systematic review provides an overview of the current pharmacologic options for OA, with a focus on race and ethnic differences in the use of such medical therapies.


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