Arthritis researcher Lauren Redshaw (left) with her friend and inspiration Marina Roxburgh. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Young adults suffering from arthritis are not being supported
by health services, a Dunedin researcher says. Marina
Roxburgh (23), of Dunedin, said she was diagnosed with
arthritis a year ago and was given little support or
information from health professionals about ways to cope with
''To have someone say 'I'm sorry' and have some kind of
compassion and tell you how it [arthritis] is going to affect
your life. There is not any support there. There is a
diagnosis and that's it.''
Having occupational therapy available would be better than
only providing medication, she said.
''It's a very vague process and there's no help. Occupational
therapy can give someone quality of life and support, rather
than just medication.''
Having the chronic disease was like having broken glass in
your joints that never went away, she said.
''Mine is in my back and my knees. It makes sleeping, reading
books and walking difficult.''
Friend Lauren Redshaw (23) said she was studying occupational
therapy in Dunedin last year and Miss Roxburgh's struggle
inspired her to apply for a research scholarship to
investigate the needs of young adults diagnosed with
''The whole idea of my research is to identify what gaps
there are in the information and support for young adults
with arthritis because there is very little.''
The $5000 Arthritis New Zealand scholarship included
interviews of five young adults who were recently diagnosed
with arthritis - a 29-year-old Tauranga woman, a 28-year-old
Invercargill woman, a 27-year-old Auckland woman, a
25-year-old Wellington woman and a 26-year-old New Plymouth
She interviewed them online with Skype and they all told her
there was a lack of support.
''All my five participants have had extremely similar
circumstances. They were given a diagnosis without empathy
After a diagnosis, the consultant or specialist should inform
the sufferers of the support groups and resources available,
Miss Redshaw said.
Only one participant was given an Arthritis NZ pamphlet by
the health professional, she said.
Greater awareness was needed about arthritis in young adults
because, for many, the diagnosis was a complete shock, she
''You're getting married, having children, studying, working
and travelling in your 20s and 30s. It is the prime time to
set up your life - and you have a chronic disease and there's
no support and information.''
She would finish the 10-week research scholarship on February
28, Miss Redshaw said.
Arthritis New Zealand chief executive Sandra Kirby said
arthritis affected joints and caused chronic pain, fatigue,
anxiety and, in some cases, depression.
''Through Lauren's project, Arthritis New Zealand hopes to
gain more information about the needs of young people with
arthritis, so we can provide tailored support and resources
to this group.''