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The Osteoarthritis (OA) Action Alliance is a national coalition of concerned organizations mobilized by the Arthritis Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and managed through the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The coalition, over 140 member-organizations strong, works collectively to advance the recommendations outlined in The National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis (OA Agenda), originally published in 2010 and updated for 2020. The OA Action Alliance and the public health community are working to ensure people with OA have the access, skills and capacity to benefit from effective and proven interventions.

Vision and Mission

Dr. Leigh Callahan is a leading osteoarthritis researcher.
Dr. Leigh Callahan

The OAAA envisions a nation in which osteoarthritis is prevented and managed in order to improve the quality of life for Americans of all ages.

The Osteoarthritis Action Alliance is committed to elevating OA as a national health priority and promoting effective policy solutions (systems and environmental) that aim to address the individual and national toll of OA.

Goals, Including Associated Products and Pursuits

  1. Invoke policymakers…at all levels in all sectors (e.g., lawmakers, businesses, school officials, community leaders) to make OA a public health priority as reflected in policy decisions and funding allocations.

The National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis2020 Update – consider pursuing Strategy 7 to initiate policy action to “establish and implement a public health policy agenda for OA.” Now building sector-specific action briefs

Policy Resource pages: Cost of OA to US, including individual State Fact Sheets for OA

  1. Foster communities…to build capacity to prevent or manage OA by disseminating information and resources about effective community interventions (e.g., evidence-based interventions, environmental and policy changes) and supporting implementation of these interventions.

Arthritis Appropriate, Evidence-Based Intervention (AAEBI) Expansion: Address all but focus on Walk With Ease (WWE).

  • – OAAA’s online participant portal for self-directed WWE. Now developing WWE portal 2.0 for broad delivery of self-directed WWE to worksites, community organizations, and other interested entities
  • Engaging faith communities to participate in self-directed WWE
  • Mini-grant program – finalizing WWE participant data entry/analysis and lessons learned from hub model grantees.

Pursuit of worksite wellness impact – A Worksite Task Group comprised of field experts, OAAA members (NACDD), and relevant partners to advance OA awareness and resources for embedding AAEBIs (emphasis on WWE) in worksites using WWE toolkit and value proposition. Now initiating a cost effectiveness/budgetary impact study for WWE.

  1. Mobilize health systems and health care professionals…to proactively identify and comprehensively address OA in their clinical care (e.g., decision prompts, pain management, physical activity as a vital sign, referral to community-based programs).

Educational toolkits and resources to assist healthcare providers in educating themselves about OA and clinical care and assisting their patients in pursuit of self-management (e.g., referral to community programs, provision of educational materials, etc.)

  • OA Care – Toolkit to assist all primary care providers with education and patient referral
  • Pharmacist Education toolkit and free CME self-study course for pharmacist education and patient referral
  • Weight Management CME for primary care providers, rheumatologists, and obesity medicine physicians (detailed in Goal 5 below)
  • American Council on Exercise CME course – Finalizing the OA course, developed in partnership with ACE, for fitness professionals nationwide (over 90,000 ACE-certified individuals and others).
  1. Engage individuals with OA,…their family/friends and caregivers with strategies to minimize disease progression and optimize quality of life through effective clinical and self-management strategies (e.g., physical activity, movement, weight management, and self-management education). Promoting SDWWE portal widely among individuals with OA, including “Class Zero” video for self-directed WWE.

OA and COVID-19 – a new page to provide free resources to assist patients manage arthritis, physical activity, pain management, healthy eating behaviors and weight, and mental wellbeing during this pandemic.

Developing new tools and resources that empower individuals with OA to engage in self-management strategies to complement multimodal clinical care; now expanding to include nutrition resources (detailed in Goal 5).

  1. Prevent the onset of OA…through effective injury prevention and weight management strategies.

Injury Prevention Task toolkit for coaches, athletic trainers, youth athletes, and parents to promote and guide in neuromuscular training strategies to minimize non-contact lower limb injuries and improve sports performance. Actively disseminating the toolkit and now working to engage coaches, sports organizations (e.g., lacrosse, field hockey and/or academic or community athletic departments) to implement and share the toolkit and provide testimonial support (e.g., video or written quote) in support of injury prevention training.

Weight Management Task Group CME course: Exercise Prescription for Osteoarthritis & Weight Management including 3 modules to assist care providers to a) understand the connection between obesity and osteoarthritis, b) prescribe or recommend exercise for patients with both conditions, and c) to communicate with patients who have obesity and OA about exercise including useful tools and resources. Group is moving into a nutrition space and beginning to identify topics of interest.

Other Resources

  • Website and Social Media. Check out the site for educational resources for physical activity, weight management and injury prevention, our Lunch & Learn schedule, the latest news and announcements, links to social media, our membership benefits educational toolkits, and more! Connect with us on all major social media channels!
  • Physical Activity Implementation Guide. An online guide to encourage six public sectors to promote and improve access to physical activity for adults with arthritis:
  • Lunch & Learn webinars. The monthly Lunch & Learn series invites content experts to give a 30-min webinar presentation to OAAA members and the public. Webinars are recorded and posted for reference:
  • The OAAA provides a variety of newsletters of relevant events, current OA news, research updates, member spotlights and Alliance updates for distribution to OAAA members and others on the mailing list.

Funding Sources

  • Primary source: Five-year CDC Cooperative Agreement #6 NU58DP006262-04-01, 2016-2021. Currently in GY4 (ending 9/29/2020). Anticipate applying for a competitive renewal in GY5.
  • Additional sources: OAAA member orgs, industry partners, and friends of the OAAA have provided grants and gifts over the years (acknowledged on our Sponsors page). We continue to pursue such funds, including NIH grants, foundation funds, and more.

Organizational Structure

  • The OAAA is a national public health coalition that operates out of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center, UNC School of Medicine.
  • Fiscal agents: UNC-Chapel Hill; UNC Health Foundation (determined by funding source/purpose)
  • OAAA staff: 2 FTE positions, 8 part-time positions, student assistants, CDC Public Health Associate
  • OAAA members are organizations, primarily, and designate a representative to liaise with the OAAA
  • OAAA Steering Committee members are elected and serve in a volunteer capacity.
  • Task Groups are convened ad hoc to pursue specific projects or objectives including OAAA member organization representatives and field experts as needed.
  • Given the cooperative agreement structure, we are regularly engaged with our CDC project officer and other Arthritis Program members to expand our collective impact to increase awareness and resources for arthritis.
  • Fran Butterfoss, Coalitions Work, is our consultant to facilitate growth, impact, and success of the coalition.


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