Read Original Story

Study: Supplements do little to ease arthritis


5 Star

Study: Supplements do little to ease arthritis

Our Review Summary

This is a succint and fairly complete report on the results of a recent research study that found glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate ineffective in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. The article failed to stress that the study looked only at the effect on OA of the knee and did not address OA affecting other joints. And while the study failed to demonstrate benefit in management of knee OA, the article included a quote from a patient who uses the supplements and believes they are effective (though whether the individual has knee OA is not clear). Thus the story seems to balance one individual anecdote against the weight of evidence from a study of 1,583 people. People with more severe pain from knee OA probably would want to know the type of chondroitin used in the study as it is not the most common form of the supplement available. It’s important that the story included comments from a journal editorial writer about limitations of the study.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Worldwide sales figure was mentioned, but no information on the cost of supplements was mentioned.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story mentioned that the study found no serious side effects in six months. It also gave the caveat that the study did not address the issue of longer-term safety.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


This article reported on the results of a randomized clinical trial; details on its publication were included as well as potential conflicts of interest of the study’s authors. Other information sources were also mentioned in the piece.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No obvious disease-mongering. Yet, although an estimate of prevalence was given, natural history of knee OA was not mentioned.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Quoted one study author, the author of a companion editorial in the journal, as well as a rheumatologist not connected with the study.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story mentioned results from the use of Celebrex, a prescription NSAID medication, which was also included as part of the study. But the presentation of alternatives to the use of supplements was incomplete. Nonetheless, we give a satisfactory score.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


Mention made of loose regulation of supplements; use of the supplements is presented as common.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The use of glucosamine and/or chondroitin for relief of knee osteoarthritis(OA) pain is not new and no suggestion of it being a novel approach was made.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


There is no evidence that the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.