Arthritis Research Canada at

ACR Convergence 2021

Research Spotlight



Experiences of self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic among individuals with rheumatoid arthritis: A qualitative study


The aim of this qualitative study was to explore how the pandemic influenced self-care from the perspectives of individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis. Insights gained may help support adaptation and resilience among persons with arthritis during the pandemic and beyond.


Research Team: Leese J, Backman CL, Ma JK, Koehn C,  Hoens AM, English K, Davidson E, McQuitty S, Gavin J, Adams J, Therrien S, Li LC.


To learn more about Arthritis Research Canada research presented at American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Convergence 2021, please scroll down. We have research on COVID-19 and arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, and much more.

Validation of a novel lupus multivariable outcome score as an outcome measure for systemic lupus erythematosus trials

The ability to demonstrate, in clinical trials, that new drugs are effective for lupus has been limited by the lack of good outcome measures. The challenge is that lupus can have a wide variety of disease manifestations. A new lupus outcome measure (LuMOS) has been developed to address this, and it was found to be better than previous lupus outcome measures at showing that treatments make a difference in two recent trials of a new lupus drug.

Research Team: Abrahamowicz M, Lipsky P



A change in a Patient Informed Clinical Disease Activity Index (PTCDAI) is similar to their rheumatologists CDAI when following patients with early rheumatoid arthritis in the Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort (CATCH) Study

The Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) is often used in rheumatoid arthritis to assess disease activity to guide treatment decisions. We compared changes in patient-generated CDAI scores with rheumatologist-generated scores and found there was good agreement suggesting patient CDAI scores may be useful in virtual care and telemedicine.

Research Team: Bykerk V, Schieir O, Valois MF, Hazlewood G, Hitchon C, Boire G, Tin D, Keystone E, Thorne C, Pope J, Bartlett S



The Neuro-QOL Upper Extremity Function Scale: New opportunities to more reliably and precisely measure self-reported hand function and self-care activities in people with rheumatoid arthritis

Brief questionnaire-type tools that can reliably and precisely quantify hand/wrist function are needed to assess how active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) inflammation is when a physical exam is not possible. In a study of 262 participants with RA, we compared scores from the NEURO-QOL Upper Extremity Function with widely used measures of RA symptoms, disease activity and disability. Our results offer initial evidence supporting the use of this questionnaire to self-assess hand inflammation and day to day experiences of living with RA.

Research Team: Bartlett S, Schieir O, Valois MF, Pope J, Boire G, Keystone E, Tin D, Thorne C, Hitchon C, Bessette L, Hazlewood G, Bykerk V; Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort Study (CATCH) investigators



Widespread but not regional non-articular pain influences patient and rheumatologist reported change in Clinical Disease Activity Index Scores over time – implications for using patient ratings in telehealth – a Study from the Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort

When seeing patients via telehealth during COVID-19, many rheumatologists have had to rely on patient reports of rheumatoid arthritis disease activity. We compared assessments of disease activity by patients and by rheumatologists during in-person visits, and found, generally good agreement between the two, except in patients with widespread pain not related to their joints.

Research Team: Bykerk V, Schieir O, Valois MF, Hazlewood G, Boire G, Hitchon C, Bessette L, Tin D, Keystone E, Thorne C, Pope J, Bartlett S



Fish oil supplementation and pro-inflammatory and pro-resolving lipid mediators in patients with and without systemic lupus erythematosus

We looked at whether taking fish oil supplementation influenced levels of different types of fats in the blood of lupus patients compared to non-lupus patients.

Research Team: Choi M, Cook N, Stevens E, Gomelskaya N, Kotler G, Manson J, Lasky-Su J, Tatituri R, Mora D, I Lee IM, Serhan C, Costenbader K



Survey on treatment practices in subclinical interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis

We conducted an international survey of experts to understand screening and treatment practices for patients with mild lung disease in scleroderma. We found considerable variability, which was not surprising as there are no good studies in these patients. Optimizing the outcomes of patients with scleroderma lung disease is an important priority and urgent studies are needed to do this especially in those with mild disease who have the potential to progress to more severe lung involvement.

Research Team: Hoa S, Baron M, Hudson M



The rheumatology workforce in Canada: Results of the Workforce and Wellness Survey

The Canadian Rheumatology Association surveyed rheumatologists across Canada to learn more about the workforce. Two important findings were: 1) there is a shortage of rheumatologists in Canada; and 2) rheumatologists are facing burnout.

Research Team: Kulhawy-Wibe S, Widdifield J, Kur J, Lee J, Thorne C, Yacyshyn E, Batthish M, Jerome D, Shupak R, Jilkine K, Purvis J, Shamis J, Roberts J, Burt J, Johnson N, Barnabe C, Spencer N, Barber CEH



Experiences of wearable technology by persons with knee osteoarthritis participating in a physical activity counselling intervention study: A relational ethics lens

To our knowledge, this is the first qualitative study that uses an ethics lens to explore how persons with arthritis experience changes in their relationship with a health professional when using a physical activity wearable during research participation. Findings describe a range of experiences (positive and negative) among persons with knee osteoarthritis who used a wearable as part of a physical activity counselling intervention study involving a physiotherapist.

Research Team: Leese J, MacDonald G, Townsend AF, Backman CL, Nimmon L, Li LC



Experiences using wearable technology by persons with rheumatoid arthritis participating in a physical activity counselling intervention study: A relational ethics analysis

Little is known about the ethical issues (positives or negatives) that people with arthritis may experience when using a physical activity wearable to support self-management in everyday life. By advancing understanding of ethical issues experienced, this study contributes important insights that can help to develop physical activity programs involving a wearable.

Research Team: Leese J, Zhu S, Townsend AF, Backman CL, Nimmon L,Li LC



Patient preferences for hydroxychloroquine in systemic lupus (SLE)

Research Team: Dollinger J, Brasil C, Wong M, Hazlewood G, Dollinger R, Singer W, Pineau C, Vinet E, Clarke A, Lee J, Bernatsky S



Studying clusters of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus according to cognitive function, self-reported outcomes, disease activity, and clusters dynamic over 1 Year

Using artificial intelligence, we identified different subgroups of lupus patients according to their ability to think, process information, how active their lupus is, and self-reported symptoms.

Research Team: Gupta A, Johnson S, Su J, Bingham K, Knight A, Diaz-Martinez J, Kakvan M, Tartaglia M, Ruttan L, Wither J, Choi M, Fritzler M, Bonilla D, Beaton D, Katz P, Green R, Touma Z



Improvement in overall survival, skin fibrosis and lung function with autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in systemic sclerosis

Trials have demonstrated that stem cell transplant is a helpful treatment for early scleroderma. Our study explored the use of this therapy in the real-world setting. The results were consistent with a better improvement in skin thickening and lung function with stem cell transplant as compared to other standard medications used in daily practice.

Research Team: Maltez N, Wang M, Wells G, Tugwell P, Baron M, Marjanovic Z, Lansiaux P, Farge D, Hudson M



Telemedicine enriched care model to optimize care for patients with autoinflammatory diseases

Research Team: Oefelein L, Klotsche J, Benseler S, Kuemmerle-Deschner J, Welzel T



Predictors of remission (on and off treatment) and lupus low disease activity state (LLDAS) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): Data from a Multinational, Multicenter SLICC (Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics) Cohort

Research Team: Ugarte-Gil M, Ruiz-Irastorza G, Gladman D, Urowitz M, Clarke A, Hanly J, Gordon C, Bae SC, Romero-Diaz J, Sanchez-Guerrero J, Bernatsky S, Wallace D, Isenberg D, Rahman A, Merrill J, Fortin PR, Bruce IN, Petri M, Ginzler E, Dooley MA, Ramsey-Goldman R, Manzi S, Jansen A, van Vollenhoven RF, Aranow C, Mackay M, Lim SS, Inanc M, Kalunian K, Jacobsen S, Peschken C, Kamen D, Askanase A,. Pons-Estel BA, Alarcon G



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