JointHealth™ insight  Published September 2013

“We are pleased to have funded research that
contributed to ... this innovative new program”
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health

Free arthritis screening and information now available from your local Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix pharmacist

Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) and the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada (ARC) have entered a three year partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix ("Shoppers"), which will make a significant difference in the lives of individuals and families living with arthritis.

Through the partnership, pharmacists at more than 1,200 Shoppers stores across Canada will be providing valuable and easily accessible information and tools on arthritis prevention, detection and screening, treatment and research information to help millions of Canadians better understand arthritis. The initiative was announced at a launch event in Toronto, attended by Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose; Canadian Institutes of Health Research Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Dr. Jane Aubin; Shoppers Drug Mart Chief Executive Officer and President, Domenic Pilla; as well as ACE and ARC executives.

Arthritis Consumer Experts and the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada partner with Shoppers Drug Mart to provide Free arthritis screening and information at the pharmacist
Speaking at the launch, ACE Founder and President Cheryl Koehn said,

“The arthritis community is excited to be partnering with Shoppers Drug Mart. They’re on main streets across Canada, right where the more than 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis live and work. The pharmacist is a key member of an arthritis patient’s healthcare team. Now, Shoppers’ pharmacists will be able to share valuable arthritis information and detect or confirm arthritis with patients through innovative consumer education programs right at the pharmacy counter.”

How will this partnership benefit you?

It means that consumers will be able to participate in personal consultations with pharmacists at Canada’s largest retail drug store, using the tools developed through the partnership, to help practice prevention, detect or manage arthritis.

During a consultation, the pharmacist reviews the data from a self-administered screening exam, along with other health information to provide appropriate, personalized recommendations based on the latest research.

“Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists are already actively involved in managing complex chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and now arthritis,” says Domenic Pilla, President and CEO, Shoppers Drug Mart. “By becoming increasingly involved in managing complex chronic diseases, pharmacists are helping to ease the burden on the healthcare system, while also helping to improve patient care.”

In preparation for the partnership launch, ACE and ARC helped produce specifically designed tools to assist pharmacists at participating Shoppers Drug Mart stores to consult with consumers about their personal risk for arthritis and give recommendations for prevention and treatment.

Pharmacists at Shoppers Drug Mart will be provided with the following arthritis screening and information tools:

Men's Arthritis Screening Tool
  • Pharmacist Questionnaire on Knee Osteoarthritis:
    A cost-effective, scientifically proven, high sensitivity questionnaire for pharmacists to help identify in their customers early undiagnosed osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Letter to Physicians:
    Validated letter for informing primary care physicians of knee osteoarthritis diagnosis, along with results of the medication review.
  • Medication Review:
    Scientifically tested, evidence-based medication review for pain medications and the possible risk of gastrointestinal side effects.
  • Pharmacy Arthritis Screening Tool:
    Arthritis screening tool for in-store pharmacy use to assist customers to self-screen for possible osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis using the latest classification criteria of the American College of Rheumatology and the Canadian Rheumatology Association and seek additional information from their pharmacist.
Additionally, together with Shoppers Drug Mart, ACE and ARC produced online versions of the Arthritis Screening Tool, one for men at and one tailored for women at These invaluable online tools help consumers detect possible arthritis, therefore potentially preventing or delaying the onset of arthritis or the damage caused by it.

“We’re thrilled that Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix is putting our research to work by launching this important initiative in its stores,” said Dr. John Esdaile, Scientific Director of the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, “Early diagnosis of arthritis is critical to slowing the progress of this disease. That’s why ARC scientist Carlo Marra and his team have invested enormous energy in developing the screening exam tool for pharmacists. We hope Canadians will get screened through this program and get access to the care they need to improve their health and quality of life.”

As Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, Shoppers Drug Mart is able to deliver these health support programs on a national scale, offering more potential points of access than any other pharmacy services provider in the country.

The pharmacist:
a key member of your healthcare team
Consulting regularly with your healthcare team, including your doctor and pharmacist, is important for protecting your specific arthritis health issues. Physicians have the details of your medical history and the training to make a diagnosis and decision about your arthritis treatment.

Having said that, people see their pharmacists about eight times more often than their primary care physician. Pharmacists are important resources, based on the frequency that people with arthritis purchase over-the-counter treatments such as acetaminophen, nutritional supplements, splints, and prescription medications. Not only are pharmacists trained to prepare and dispense medications prescribed by physicians, they can also
  • Provide information about dosing
  • Identify interactions and side effects of both prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Give advice on non-medication therapies
  • Give vaccinations
  • Adapt certain types of prescriptions
  • Provide medication reviews.
Pharmacists are also able to monitor medications for efficacy and safety and can follow up with patients to make sure that the medications are used and working as intended.

Finally, pharmacy services are fast becoming an important part of healthcare reform in Canada. In some provinces, pharmacists now have the ability to assist physicians with prescription renewals, and where appropriate and necessary, adjust prescriptions dosages and administer vaccines, saving patients both time and energy in making multiple trips to their physicians’ offices.

If you live with arthritis, you probably spend a great deal of time with many different health professionals: a family physician, rheumatologist, pharmacist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, orthopedic surgeon, or dietician. So, think of yourself as the manager of your treatment plan and the person who decides which professionals belong on your arthritis healthcare team. Once you have begun to build your healthcare team, with referrals to these professionals, there are steps you can take to make the most out of the time you spend with the members of your team.

Pharmacists and your medications

If you recently started a new arthritis medication, the Arthritis Screening Tool is also an excellent way to help you and your pharmacist monitor your symptoms and the effectiveness of your treatment. It’s about making sure you get the most benefit from your medication to help prevent the disease from getting worse.

Medications are a critical part of a successful arthritis treatment plan. Thankfully, new advances in medication treatments have expanded the options available to people living with arthritis. Decisions around medications, however, can be very difficult to make. Getting all the facts about the medication choices available to you will help you to feel more comfortable and confident in your decision.

Pharmacists are experts in what makes up a medication and how it is supposed to work in the body. They can provide specific information on things to look for, such as whether the medication is actually working, if it is causing harm, how to take it, when to take it, and what happens if a dose is missed.

Canadian women living with arthritis speak out

Of the more than 4.6 million Canadians diagnosed and living with arthritis, two out of three, or 2.8 million are women. Clearly, arthritis is a women’s disease. Due to physiological and physical differences from men, women are more likely to get certain types of arthritis, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis

Research shows that longer life expectancy, hormones and lifestyle differences may explain the higher prevalence in women. Women with the disease also report more disability than men. At work, arthritis is the most frequently mentioned condition as a cause of disability among Canadian women.

A 2013 Vision Critical National Survey commissioned by ACE, ARC, and Shoppers Drug Mart of more than 1,000 women living with arthritis found that Canadian women identify health and wellness as their top life priority but do not feel they have easy access to vital, life-saving arthritis facts about screening, signs and symptoms, treatment and what they can do on a daily basis to protect their joints and manage pain.

According to the survey, the most important issues for respondents were decreasing stiffness and damage in joints, and knowing how to decrease and manage pain. More than half of the women also said their current health status limits them in vigorous activities, such as running, climbing stairs, lifting heavy objects, and participating in sports.

As part of their partnership, ACE and ARC worked with Shoppers Drug Mart to develop their WOMEN: Body, Mind, Spirit initiative, an arthritis program specifically for women living with the disease. A key part of the program is to equip pharmacists with tools and advice to help women assess their joint health to prevent and manage arthritis. We have specifically designed the Women’s Arthritis Health Guide to make arthritis health accessible and personalized for women when and where they need it.

“For women experiencing symptoms, such as joint stiffness, swelling or inflammation, there’s a lot they can do to prevent the disease from worsening. From diet and exercise to medication management, a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist can provide practical tips and advice to help women detect and manage the disease early – an important step in delaying its effects and potential impact on other areas of her life, such as caring for her children, participating in the workforce, and enjoying everyday life,” says Jeannette Wang, SVP of Pharmacy Professional Affairs and Services for Shoppers Drug Mart.

ACE and ARC have collaborated with Shoppers Drug Mart to develop content for the Shoppers Drug Mart website to help women manage their arthritis. No matter what life stage they are in, women can improve the quality of their home, social, and professional lives with arthritis by learning practical tips for daily tasks, protecting joints and getting started with a fitness and nutrition program. Visit the Shoppers Drug Mart Women’s Arthritis Program at to learn important and practical arthritis tips, including:

  • Arthritis 101: What is arthritis? Why is the disease more prevalent among women? What role can certain exercises, like yoga or Pilates, and nutrition play in managing joint stiffness, pain and controlling the disease?
  • Prime Time: The effect of arthritis on young women when it comes to their sexual relationships, career, and family aspirations.
  • Mom & Boss: The impact of arthritis on a woman’s ability to parent and climb the corporate ladder. Learn how women with arthritis can juggle both.

Women’s arthritis screening tools

Do it with the pharmacist
The diagnosis of arthritis for a woman can be serious and should not be taken lightly.

Early diagnosis and treatment are vital for women dealing with almost every type of arthritis. A correct diagnosis is the first step toward taking control of arthritis, and then action in the form of a treatment plan can be followed.

To help women understand their personal risk of arthritis, ACE and ARC have collaborated with Shoppers Drug Mart to develop the first and only arthritis screening program in Canada designed specifically for women: the Women’s Arthritis Screening Tool. The program also helps women with the disease and their pharmacist monitor their symptoms and medication over time to help prevent the disease from worsening.

Together with their pharmacist, women are guided through a joint exam and questionnaire to assess their risk of arthritis. If more information or treatment is needed, the pharmacist can then refer her to the most appropriate healthcare provider (e.g., doctor, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or dietician).

Know your personal risk
At participating Shoppers Drug Mart stores, go through the Women’s Arthritis Screening Tool, a joint exam and questionnaire, with a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist to learn whether that persistent pain in your knee is a form of arthritis or just a lingering injury.

The Women’s Arthritis Screening Tool is the first and only arthritis screening program in Canada designed specifically for women.

Women's Arthritis Screening Tool Do it yourself
ACE and ARC also worked with Shoppers Drug Mart to produce an online version of the Women's Arthritis Screening Tool to help women prevent or delay the onset of arthritis.

An interactive joint exam and questionnaire, the Women’s Arthritis Screening Tool will analyze your responses and provide you valuable results to help detect arthritis, track symptoms, and provide information to manage your type of arthritis.

Once diagnosed, the online screening tool can be used to help a woman monitor her arthritis. She can go back in to assess certain joints and provide results to her doctor for further follow-up.

If you think you have arthritis or are experiencing joint pain, take your personalized screening today at

Listening to you

We hope you find this information of use. Please tell us what you think by writing to us or emailing us at Through your ongoing and active participation, ACE can make its work more relevant to all Canadians living with arthritis.

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Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE)

Who We Are

Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) provides research-based education, advocacy training, advocacy leadership and information to Canadians with arthritis. We help empower people living with all forms of arthritis to take control of their disease and to take action in healthcare and research decision making. ACE activities are guided by its members and led by people with arthritis, leading medical professionals and the ACE Advisory Board. To learn more about ACE, visit:


Over the past 12 months, ACE received unrestricted grants-in-aid from: AbbVie Corporation, Amgen Canada, Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffman-La Roche Canada Ltd., Janssen Inc., Pfizer Canada and Takeda Canada, Inc. ACE also receives unsolicited donations from its community members (people with arthritis) across Canada.

ACE thanks these private and public organizations and individuals.


The material contained on this website is provided for general information only. This website should not be relied on to suggest a course of treatment for a particular individual or as a substitute for consultation with qualified health professionals who are familiar with your individual medical needs. Should you have any healthcare related questions, you should contact your physician. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this or any website.

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