Differences in RA Treatment Goals Between Patients and Healthcare Providers

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patient checkup
A physician- and patient-based survey revealed differences in treatment goals, patient concerns, and more.

Differences between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment goals set by patients and healthcare providers (HCPs) were found in a global physician-patient survey administered by the RA NarRAtive Advisory Panel, according to a study presented at the Association of Women in Rheumatology National Conference. 

The panel, composed of 39 RA experts, developed the survey to gain a better understanding of both patient and HCP outlooks on RA treatment and disease management. In total, 3987 patients (1667 of whom were currently seeing a rheumatologist to manage their RA) and 1666 HCPs responded to the survey.

Of the responding HCPs, 90% said they felt satisfied with their patient communication, but 68% admitted they wished they talked to their patients more about goals and treatment. Likewise, 57% of patients admitted that communication with their HCP would improve their disease management, but 61% of patients said they felt uncomfortable talking to their HCP about their concerns and fears.

Quality-of-life issues were discussed by 93% of HCPs, which included talking to their patients about lifestyle goals and the impact RA may have on the patient’s ability to work and participate in everyday activities. Of the HP respondents, 86% talked to their patients about treatment-related issues, such as therapy adherence, medication preferences, and whether patients see other HCPs for treatment.

The most common topics patients said they worry about were similar to the topics HCPs thought their patients worried about. However, a greater number of HCPs believed their patients were concerned with treatment failures and side-effects. Both patients and HCPs reported wanting to make similar changes in current RA medications, including the severity, cost, efficacy, and number of side effects.

When reflecting on treatment goals, patients reported a desire for reducing symptoms, while remission was frequently reported by HCPs as their top goal. A total of 88% of HCPs agreed that patients who are involved in the treatment decision process are more likely to be satisfied with their treatments, and 74% of patients agreed that patients who are not involved are less likely to adhere to treatments.

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Overall, 86% of HCPs believed having an open dialogue with their patients is important, and given the differences reported in treatment goals, increased communication may be what is needed. “Differences between treatment goals set by [patients] and HCPs were reported, thus highlighting the importance of an open [patient]-HCP dialogue in the successful management of RA,” remarked Ara Dikranian, MD, a rheumatologist in El Cajon, California. “These findings could help improve adherence and [patient] satisfaction with their disease management.”

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Dikranian A, Galloway J, Kekow J. Understanding the importance of a patient’s role in the management of RA: physician and patient-based survey. Presented at: Association of Women in Rheumatology (AWIR) 2017 Annual Meeting; August 16-19, 2017; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.