Better rheumatoid arthritis services needed

(13/06/2017) Half of adults with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have to had to change jobs because of the condition, while 24% have had to reduce their hours, a new survey has found.

RA is a painful inflammatory condition affecting the joints. Around 40,000 people in Ireland have the condition and it can start at any age, although it is most likely to develop between the ages of 30 and 50.

The survey of almost 180 people with RA was carried out on behalf of Arthritis Ireland.

It found 76% of people with RA worry that their medication will stop working and 77% wish they could take fewer medications for the condition. Of those taking prescription medications, 52% wish they had more medication options available to them.

When asked about their treatment goals, 68% said they would like to reduce fatigue and 63% would like to reduce pain. Some 64% would like to increase their level of physical activity and 56% would like to be able to undertake their daily activities more comfortably.

Meanwhile, 88% of those surveyed said that they worry about disease progression, while 64% worry that the condition will affect their ability to lead an independent life.

“This research is incredibly insightful and a welcome development in identifying the needs of RA patients. As a physician, I am always keen to understand patient feedback, their concerns and requirements. This feedback indicates the need to determine an effective, collaborative relationship between patients and their RA physician to work together to better manage RA.

“It is vital that RA patients are presented with treatment options and there is a need for ongoing development into new, innovative treatments,” commented Prof Doug Veale, a consultant rheumatologist at St Vincent’s University Hospital.

According to Arthritis Ireland’s head of services, Grainne O’Leary, this survey shows that the impact of RA on quality of life is a major concern for those affected.

“At Arthritis Ireland, we have developed a suite of self-management programmes to give people the skills and tools to live with their diagnosis daily. This new research identifies the need for greater services around the country to assist those with RA to live a normal, active life and to empower them to work with their specialist to manage the condition,” she said.

The survey was carried out in March and April as part of Pfizer’s RA NarRAtive initiative, which aims to highlight the key role of the patient in the successful management of RA.

Among those surveyed, the average age at the time of diagnosis was 40 and the average length of time living with the condition was 10 years.

For more information on Arthritis Ireland, click here


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