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Arthritis is a prevalent health issue, especially among the elderly in Australia, significantly impacting individuals with pain and reduced functionality (AIHW, 2018). Among 20.4 per cent of individuals who report being diagnosed with arthritis by a doctor, females exhibit a notably higher prevalence at 25.9 percent, in contrast to males at 15.6 percent (Department of Health and Human Services, 2018). The chosen demographic group of Australian females over 55 experiences unique challenges, which necessitates a comprehensive needs assessment to inform targeted interventions and support.

According to research, normative needs include access to healthcare services, timely diagnosis, and appropriate treatment modalities. In contrast, comparative needs shed light on variations in access to resources, care disparities, and potential improvement areas (Hogan et al., 2023). The researchers identified that females aged 60–69 constituted the demographic with the highest admission rates, a trend consistent with the existing literature (Almutairi et al., 2022; Finckh et al., 2022). Their data suggested that residing in rural areas of Western Australia might lead to more frequent hospitalisations for arthritis, indicating potential challenges in accessing local primary healthcare (Finckh et al., 2022). As per the literature, possible explanations for the heightened hospitalisation rates among older rural females with arthritis include a scarcity of rheumatologists, delays in the early diagnosis and treatment of arthritis, and a lower socioeconomic status prevalent in rural populations (Almutairi et al., 2022; Putrik et al., 2015). Expressed needs may encompass pain management, physical therapy, psychological support, and information on self-care strategies. Felt needs represent the subjective experiences and emotions of individuals living with arthritis, encompassing factors such as coping mechanisms, emotional well-being, and overall quality of life. Older females living with arthritis employ various coping mechanisms to manage pain and adapt to physical limitations, ranging from mindfulness practices to seeking social support (Chaharmahali et al., 2023) Emotional well-being fluctuates, encompassing frustration, triumph, and vulnerability, reflecting their resilience in facing the challenges of their condition. This experience directly impacts their overall quality of life, influencing relationships, activities, and personal goals.

The need for a comprehensive analysis arises from the complexity of arthritis as a multifaceted condition with physical, psychological, and social implications. Qualitative research methods offer a robust approach to uncovering these nuanced needs. Through in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and thematic analysis, qualitative research allows for the exploration of the psychosocial impact of arthritis, including its effects on their daily activities, social interactions of the chosen population (Hennink & Kaiser, 2022).

The population faces multiple critical issues, which are identified by the problem tree (refer to appendices). First, especially in underprivileged areas, there is a lack of specialised clinics and rheumatologists in Australian healthcare, which makes specialised healthcare resources scarce (Samm et al., 2023). Patients' discomfort and pain are made worse by the extended wait times for appointments and consultations. Furthermore, there is a dearth of comprehensive education and information about self-care practices and adaptive arthritis management strategies, as well as a lack of effective pain management strategies tailored to women (Dineen-Griffin et al., 2019). This also includes a lack of knowledge about the networks and resources that are accessible to help people manage their condition. There is a major emotional and psychological impact; many people report feeling very stressed, anxious, or depressed. However, access to mental health services designed to specifically address the special difficulties faced by older Australian women with arthritis is restricted (van Gaans & Dent, 2018). People with arthritis experience social isolation and a reduction in their quality of life as a result of these group issues. Reduced involvement in social events and community activities intensifies feelings of loneliness and eventually lowers life satisfaction and general well-being.

The solution tree offers a thorough method for overcoming these obstacles (refer to appendices). It is possible to significantly enhance access to specialised healthcare by growing the number of rheumatologists and specialised clinics, especially in underprivileged areas. Long wait times for consultations can also be reduced by implementing telemedicine options.Important first steps towards more effective pain management include comprehensive pain management programmes that include physical and occupational therapy as well as instructional workshops on pain management techniques (Perez et al., 2021). Community-based workshops and specially designed educational materials can close the educational gap and give the populace the information and tools they require. The emotional and psychological effects of arthritis can be addressed by including counselling and support groups with mental health services (CDC, 2020). Last but not least, organising social gatherings and activities for people with arthritis will strengthen their sense of community and enhance their general quality of life.


The prioritisation of needs in this Assessment is based on a thorough review of current literature and a consideration of the unique challenges faced by Australian females aged 55 years and older living with arthritis. Firstly, the priority placed on enhancing access to specialised care stems from evidence indicating that timely diagnosis and intervention significantly improve arthritis outcomes (Pires et al., 2023). Early intervention, including access to rheumatologists and specialised care, leads to better disease management, reduced pain, and improved functionality. The emphasis on comprehensive pain management strategies is grounded in the recognition of the profound impact of pain on the daily lives of those with arthritis. According to ‌Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, proficient management of pain not only mitigates physical discomfort but also has a positive impact on mental health (CDC, 2020). Through offering instruction on various pain management methods and enabling entry to specialised pain clinics, our objective is to lessen the impact of persistent pain and enhance the psychological welfare and general standard of living for this demographic. The prioritisation of comprehensive rehabilitation programmes is also reinforced by data that shows the benefits of interdisciplinary approaches to arthritis management. Studies have demonstrated that comprehensive rehabilitation regimens that include physical, occupational, and psychological counselling result in increased emotional well-being, decreased pain, and better physical function (Van der Elst et al., 2020). By applying these programmes into place, we hope to address the complex nature of arthritis and give people the tools they need to take back control of their lives.

Finally, research showing the advantages of equipping people with the information and abilities to manage arthritis on their own is the foundation for the emphasis on enhancing health education and self-management support (Shao et al., 2020). Self-management and education initiatives result in better treatment plan adherence, higher levels of self-efficacy, and better overall health outcomes. Through customised educational materials, workshops, and support groups, our goal is to give people the tools they need to effectively manage their arthritis on their own.

SWOT Analysis of Needs Assessment


  • Unique focus on Australian females aged 55 years and older with arthritis
  • Utilisation of qualitative research methods for a nuanced understanding
  • Comprehensive exploration of psychosocial impacts of arthritis
  • Potential to uncover previously overlooked needs specific to this demographic


  • Potential limitation in generalizability to diverse subgroups within the demographic
  • Limited consideration of external factors like socioeconomic status
  • Qualitative approach may not provide easily comparable quantitative data
  • Limited consideration of potential comorbidities impacting arthritis management


  •  Establishing partnerships with local healthcare providers, advocacy groups, and community organisations
  •  Integration of technology for improved access to specialised care and resources
  • Collaboration with stakeholders to enhance the impact of interventions
  • Conducting workshops and awareness campaigns in collaboration with local community centres


  • Shifts in healthcare policies and funding priorities
  • Economic conditions impacting availability of specialised care and services
  • Fluctuations in funding for healthcare programs affecting feasibility of interventions.


Almutairi, K., Inderjeeth, C., Preen, D. B., Keen, H., & Nossent, J. (2022). The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis in Western Australia. BMC Rheumatology , 6 (1).

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (2018), Arthritis snapshot Canberra.

‌Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). The Arthritis-Mental Health Connection..

‌Chaharmahali, L., Farzaneh Gandomi, Yalfani, A., & Alireza Fazaeli. (2023). The effect of mindfulness and motivational interviewing along with neuromuscular exercises on pain, function, and balance of women affected by knee osteoarthritis: a rater-blinded randomised controlled clinical trial. Disability and Rehabilitation , 1–12.

Department of Health and Human Services.(2018). Victorian population health survey 2016 State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.

‌Dineen-Griffin, S., Garcia-Cardenas, V., Williams, K., & Benrimoj, S. I. (2019). Helping patients help themselves: A systematic review of self-management support strategies in primary health care practice. PLOS ONE , 14 (8).

‌Finckh, A., Gilbert, B., Hodkinson, B., Bae, S.-C., Thomas, R., Deane, K. D., Alpizar-Rodriguez, D., & Lauper, K. (2022). Global epidemiology of rheumatoid arthritis. Nature Reviews Rheumatology .

‌Hennink, M., & Kaiser, B. N. (2022). Sample sizes for saturation in qualitative research: A systematic review of empirical tests. Social Science & Medicine , 292 (1), 114523.

Hogan, C., Gustafsson, L., Amelia Di Tommaso, Hodson, T., Bissett, M., & Shirota, C. (2023). Establishing the normative and comparative needs of assistive technology provision in Queensland from the agency and funding scheme perspective. Brain Impairment , 24 (2), 204–218.

‌Perez, J., Niburski, K., Stoopler, M., & Ingelmo, P. (2021). Telehealth and chronic pain management from rapid adaptation to long-term implementation in pain medicine: A narrative review. PAIN Reports , 6 (1), e912.

Pires, C., Reis, A., Santos, Manoel Barros Bertolo, Paulo Louzada Júnior, Dalva, R., Sebastião Cezar Radominski, Fernanda, M., Karina Rossi Bonfiglioli, Maria, Ivânio Alves Pereira, Claiton Viegas Brenol, Henrique, M., Luiz, L., & Rocha, G. (2023). Do it fast! Early access to specialised care improved long-term outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis: data from the REAL multicenter observational study. 63 (1).

Putrik, P., Ramiro, S., Keszei, A. P., Hmamouchi, I., Dougados, M., Uhlig, T., Kvien, T. K., & Boonen, A. (2015). Lower education and living in countries with lower wealth are associated with higher disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis: results from the multinational COMORA study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases , 75 (3), 540–546.

Samm, D. A., Macoustra, A. R., Crane, R. K., McWilliams, L., Proudman, S., & Chapple, L. S. (2023). A survey of Australian rheumatologists’ perspectives of nutrition needs in systemic sclerosis. Journal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders , 8 (3), 203–209.

‌Shao, J.-H., Yu, K.-H., & Chen, S.-H. (2020). Effectiveness of a self-management program for joint protection and physical activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies , 116 , 103752.

Van der Elst, K., Verschueren, P., De Cock, D., De Groef, A., Stouten, V., Pazmino, S., Vriezekolk, J., Joly, J., Moons, P., & Westhovens, R. (2020). One in five patients with rapidly and persistently controlled early rheumatoid arthritis report poor well-being after 1 year of treatment. RMD Open , 6 (1), e001146.

Van Gaans, D., & Dent, E. (2018). Issues of accessibility to health services by older Australians: a review. Public Health Reviews , 39 (1).


The following problem and solution tree outlines the key needs and proposes corresponding interventions:

See our related work : Report on Improving Health Outcomes in Migrant Populations

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