Study Finds Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Better Off with Ongoing Rheumatology Care
June 7, 2022 (Vancouver) – Researchers have found some room for improvement when it comes to keeping rheumatoid arthritis patients under the care of a rheumatologist long term.
The Arthritis Research Canada study examined yearly access to rheumatology care and ongoing treatment in a group of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis in Ontario. It also looked at the patient and rheumatologist factors associated with remaining under continuous rheumatology care in the first five years after diagnosis.
Researchers found that older age, male sex, lower socioeconomic status, the number of diseases a patient has, and having an older rheumatologist were associated with lower odds of remaining under rheumatology care.
“Most research examining rheumatology care has focused on measuring initial access to rheumatologists among new patients,” said Dr. Claire Barber, a research scientist at Arthritis Research Canada and the lead researcher on this study. “Less is known about retention in rheumatology care over time, which can impact patient quality of care.”
The research team also found that, although the percentage of patients seeing a rheumatologist for an annual visit declined each year after diagnosis, retention improved over the study period.
Treatment for people with rheumatoid arthritis requires frequent reassessment of disease activity by a rheumatologist and adjustment of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). The goal is to achieve remission or low disease activity.
“Once a person has achieved either of these goals, they should continue to be seen by a rheumatologist at least once a year for their overall health,” Barber said, adding that discontinuing medications can be associated with high disease relapse rates in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
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ABOUT ARTHRITIS RESEARCH CANADA:
Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose world recognized research is creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is conducting research across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec and is affiliated with five major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, and McGill University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.
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