A new survey of more than 3,600 adults living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) shows that a patient’s perception of their disease and treatment, as well as their relationship with their healthcare professional, can positively impact the management of their disease.
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Explore This IssueOctober 2015
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The RA NarRAtive survey, created and sponsored by Pfizer, is part of an international initiative aimed at promoting the role of the patient in the successful management of RA. The survey also sought to identify the barriers experienced by patients in achieving optimal treatment management and to suggest strategies to improve outcomes.
Survey results indicate that some of the keys to successfully managing RA include a patient’s ability to have an open dialogue and to set treatment goals with their physician, as well as the ability to connect with patient support groups.
The survey also indicated that optimal RA management might not occur when patients don’t feel encouraged to express goals, ask questions and accurately convey their satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
“The survey tells us that as doctors, we may not necessarily be doing as good a job as we believe,” says Dr. Ara Dikranian, senior rheumatologist at the San Diego Arthritis Medical Clinic and a member of the RA NarRAtive Advisory Panel, a group comprising 27 RA experts, including physician and patient-group leaders from around the world.
Despite the importance of patient–doctor communication, the survey revealed that, in the U.S., 41% patients who currently visit a doctor to manage their RA report feeling uncomfortable raising concerns and fears with their physician, and approximately 22% of patients worry that if they ask too many questions, their doctor will see them as a difficult patient and it will affect the quality of their care.
“Based on the results of this survey, we’re seeing that RA patients want doctors to put more emphasis on talking to them about their treatment goals,” Dr. Dikranian says.
Setting Treatment Goals
The survey also found disconnects between treatment satisfaction and status of the disease. While more than 4 in 5 RA patients who are taking prescription medication say they are satisfied with their treatment regimen, only 26% of those say their RA is “under control.” In addition, of those currently taking medication to manage their RA, three in five wish they could change something about their current RA medications.
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“We learned that sometimes patients and their rheumatologists don’t share the same treatment goals,” Dr. Dikranian says. “For example, a physician may want to prescribe a certain medication to alleviate RA symptoms, but the patient may not be willing to take risks associated with the medication.”