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Hand Osteoarthritis: investigating Pain trajectories and association with biomarkers including Estrogen cohort (HOPE-c)

We are studying pain in hand osteoarthritis and aim to understand why people living with the condition experience different patterns of pain. If you aged over 18 years, live in the UK and have hand pain due to osteoarthritis, please consider taking part.

You can participate in HOPE-c entirely from your own home: completing questionnaires and rating your hand pain daily for six months.

If you live near Oxford or London and are interested in attending optional study visits, we may offer face-to-face assessment, depending on local COVID-19 restrictions.

Click here to find out if you might be eligible to TAKE PART in the study.


Why is this an important research area?

Hand osteoarthritis is a common condition. In the UK, 1.5 million people aged over 45 years have seen their doctor for this. People living with hand osteoarthritis may experience pain and a reduction in their ability to use their hands, which can affect work, hobbies and overall quality of life. There is no cure at present. The medications that are currently available for hand osteoarthritis are limited (most commonly painkillers and steroid injections) and aim to control pain rather than changing long-term outcomes.

Measuring pain in hand osteoarthritis

We need to learn more about why people have different experiences of pain in hand osteoarthritis. Pain appears to improve over time in some individuals, whilst in others it may remain stable or worsen. In addition, some people report flares or improvements in their hand pain, but not everyone experiences this. Understanding the factors that predict the future course of pain would allow us to better inform people living with arthritis and may help them to make decisions about treatment, work and lifestyle choices.

Hand osteoarthritis is more common in women and its frequency increases as people age, with a peak in new cases around the time of menopause (when estrogen levels fall). We also know that sex hormones influence how both men and women sense pain. This suggests that sex hormones (such as estrogens and testosterone) may be important in the development of hand OA.

People tell us that weather conditions affect their joints. In HOPE-c, we will try to understand any links between weather conditions and daily hand pain severity or flares. 


You will be asked to score your hand pain daily for six months (on a mobile phone or a paper diary) and complete at least five surveys in total over this time. Surveys can be completed online with the option of telephone support. Paper-based surveys can be posted out if this is preferred. We will ask questions about your hand symptoms, medical background and treatments, with questionnaires about pain, mood and hormonal symptoms.  

Participants who live near Oxford and London may be offered optional face-to-face appointments, when this is safe and feasible (depending on local COVID-19 restrictions). During these appointments, we will offer assessments including a hand X-ray, blood tests and examination of the hands.

If you are interested in learning more about the study, please visit the Participant Information page.


The HOPE-c study is led by a team of doctors and scientists based at the University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. We want to better understand hand osteoarthritis to improve the lives of people living with the condition.  

Click here to learn more about our team and the OA Centre.  


We will use information from you in this research, using the minimum personally identifiable information possible. Your identity as a participant in this study will be kept confidential. Your data is protected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). There is further information about confidentiality and how we protect your data in Participant Information.

Click here to find out if you might be eligible to TAKE PART in the study.


If you would like to know more about the HOPE-c study please contact:

Malvika Gulati or Gretchen Brewer


Telephone: 01865 612651

Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis

Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology

University of Oxford

Roosevelt Drive


Funded by

Versus Arthritis logo

SEE OUR Completed trials