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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Dr Krysia Dziedzic

Krysia DziedicKrysia Dziedzic is an Arthritis Research UK senior lecturer in physiotherapy in the Primary Care Sciences Research Centre at Keele University.

What does your work involve?

My research work is undertaken in two main areas within the Primary Care Science Research Centre. I work in our trials unit on studies of common treatments for musculoskeletal pain and arthritis, and I work in our epidemiology team to investigate these common conditions in primary care. We try to answer important questions on how best to manage painful conditions like osteoarthritis, low back painneck pain and shoulder pain, and we work in partnership with our NHS colleagues. Our research gets tremendous support from the people of North Staffordshire, South Cheshire and the West Midlands. We also have strong international links with other researchers who do similar work in their own countries.

How long has Arthritis Research UK been funding you?

My first grant from Arthritis Research UK was in 1997 when, with Elaine Hay and Peter Croft, we studied the long-term effectiveness of steroid injections compared with physiotherapy for shoulder pain. In 1999 the Panther study was funded. In 2000 I was lucky to be funded as the Arthritis Research UK senior lecturer. In 2002 we were awarded funding for a trial to see if acupuncture is a useful addition to physiotherapy for older adults with knee pain. In 2003 we were awarded a programme grant to improve the effectiveness of primary care for non-specific back pain. As you can see Arthritis Research UK has been tremendously supportive of our research work.

What's the most important thing you've found out in the past 12 months? Why?

When we finished the Panther study we found that adding manual therapy or pulsed shortwave diathermy to exercise and advice didn't add any additional benefit than advice and exercise alone for non-specific neck disorders. This highlights the important role that advice and exercise has in the treatment of neck disorders, and these findings were reported in The Guardian in August last year.

What do you hope or expect to achieve as a result of your Arthritis Research UK funding?

I'd like to see therapists using our Arthritis Research UK-funded research findings in their treatments of musculoskeletal pain and arthritis. I also hope to continue working in arthritis research for many years to come.

What do you do in a typical day?

A typical day at the centre will involve research planning meetings with my colleagues, monitoring trials in progress, writing papers for publication and grant proposals, preparing conference talks and poster presentations, working with statisticians on results from studies completed, mentoring researchers, supervising PhD students, supporting physiotherapists and occupational therapists in the NHS, reviewing papers submitted to research journals, reviewing grant proposals and the dreaded answering of email!

What's your greatest research achievement?

Securing the prestigious Arthritis Research UK senior lecturer post. This meant that I could pursue a full-time research career in community rheumatology, which is fantastic. Big thank you to Arthritis Research UK for making this happen.

Why did you choose to do this work?

My father had rheumatoid arthritis and I specialised as a rheumatology physiotherapist at the Medway Hospital in Kent. I then moved to the Staffordshire Rheumatology Centre in Stoke-on-Trent to work as a part-time researcher in arthritis and part-time rheumatology physiotherapist. Here I studied for my PhD at Keele University and a few years later had an opportunity to move to Keele as a full-time researcher in community rheumatology.

Do you ever think about how your work can help people with arthritis?

Yes, very much so. For example, our recent research in hand osteoarthritis has shown us how much it affects people's lives. We hope to develop studies to improve the way in which this is treated.

What would you do if you weren't a researcher/healthcare professional?

I'd like to be a Blue Peter presenter and then I could take my cat to work with me every day.

About Krysia

I'm married to Mark, who's a professional watercolour painter. We live with Robyn the cat in a village in the Staffordshire Moorlands, close to the White Peak district. Our house is 120 years old and has only ever been owned by four families, so we hope we can live there for many years to come. We can even get our coal delivered by barge! A couple of years ago one of our research participants persuaded me to take part in a sponsored swim and this has now become an annual event, so around this time of year I have to start my swimming training. My father was Polish, something I'm very proud of, and I've recently started Polish lessons (again).

This article first appeared in Arthritis Today Winter 2006, issue 131.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.