The MSKCOM study

The impact of musculoskeletal conditions on outcomes of other illnesses: a linked electronic health record study

Chief Investigator: Professor Kelvin Jordan
Principal Investigators: Dr Michelle Marshall
Funder name / reference number: Nuffield Foundation; Oliver Bird Fund (OBF/21967)
Year: 2020-2022

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The project has been funded by the Nuffield Foundation, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation. Visit

The MSKCOM study set out to assess whether people with an existing musculoskeletal painful condition (pain in the joints and the muscles around them) have worse outcomes following a diagnosis of another serious illness.

Previous research has shown that a large proportion of people with musculoskeletal pain have other long-term conditions. When a patient has multiple conditions, healthcare professionals often do not consider the management of musculoskeletal pain to be a priority. However, pain can lead to poor mobility, poor mental health, and sleep interference, all of which can reduce the effectiveness of treatments and rehabilitation. People with a new illness and musculoskeletal pain may be more likely to be admitted to hospital as they cannot manage the combined burden of their illnesses or their treatments at home.

The study used information from patient medical records contained within a large national anonymised general practice database (the Clinical Practice Research Datalink) that also had linkage to hospital and death records. We analysed the data of people aged 45 years or over with a first-ever recorded heart attack, stroke, cancer, dementia, or community-acquired pneumonia. These illnesses have major impacts on quality of life and are of high priority for the NHS. We determined whether having musculoskeletal pain led to worse outcomes from these illnesses such as having to go into hospital, longer stays in hospital, differences in management, faster progression of illness, dying earlier and the costs of healthcare.

For more details of the findings from this study, please go to the Dissemination tab to see the main report and details of other outputs from this study, and go to the Animation tab to see a short animation describing the study.


A report has been produced summarising MSKCOM study and its findings

Infographics of our study findings

Journal articles

Conference abstracts

  • Musculoskeletal pain and its impact on prognosis following hospitalisation for acute coronary syndrome or cerebrovascular accident: a linked electronic health record cohort study (MSKCOM). Mason KJ, Jordan KP, Achana F , Bailey J , Chen Y , Frisher M , Heron N, Huntley AL , Mallen CD, Mamas MA, Marshall M, Png ME , Tatton S, White S , Edwards JJ. Society for Academic Primary Care North Conference 2021 - oral presentation
  • Musculoskeletal pain and prognosis for acute coronary syndrome and cerebrovascular accident: a linked electronic health record cohort study. Mason KJ, Jordan KP, Achana F, Bailey J, Chen Y, Frisher M, Herron N, Huntley AL, Mallen CD, Mamas MA, Marshall M, Png ME , Tatton S, White S, Edwards JJ. British Society of Rheumatology Annual Conference 2022 - Poster presentation
  • Impact of musculoskeletal pain on outcome of comorbidities: the MSKCOM study. KP Jordan, KJ Mason, FA Achana, J Bailey, Y Chen, M Frisher, N Heron, AL Huntley, CD Mallen, MA Mamas, ME Png, S Tatton, S White, JJ Edwards, M Marshall. National Musculoskeletal Health Data Group (Versus Arthritis) 2022 - Oral presentation. 
  • Musculoskeletal pain and its impact on rates of hospitalisation and mortality in cancer: a linked electronic health record cohort study (MSKCOM). Mason KJ , Bailey J, Heron N, Marshall M, Achana F, Chen Y, Edwards JJ, Frisher M, Huntley AL, Mallen CD, Mamas MA, Png ME, Tatton S, White S, Jordan KP. Society for Academic Primary care Annual Scientific Meeting 2022 - Oral Presentation.

An animation has been produced summarising the MSKCOM study and its findings.