Prioritizing the patient: optimizing therapy in rheumatoid arthritis. Results of a patient questionnaire in northern Germany
Jürgen Wollenhaupt,1 Inge Ehlebracht-Koenig,2 André Groenewegen,3 Dieter Fricke4
1Rheumatologikum Hamburg, Schön Klinik Hamburg Eilbek, Hamburg, Germany; 2Center of Rehabilitation, Bad Eilsen, Germany; 3UCB Pharma SA, Brussels, Belgium; 4UCB Pharma GmbH, Monheim, Germany
Purpose: A 40-question postal survey was developed to gain insight into the nature of difficulties experienced by patients due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as well as patient perceptions and priorities regarding their RA treatment
Patients and methods: A total of 3000 Lower Saxony, Germany members of Rheuma-Liga (RL), a patient support group for people with RA, were invited to participate between July 1, and August 20, 2009. The questionnaire was divided into four sections: (1) patient demographics, (2) quality of life (QOL), (3) treatment expectations and, (4) patient perceptions of RL. The questionnaire could be completed in writing or via the internet.
Results: Of 959 respondents (response rate = 32.0%), 318 had diagnosed RA and were included in the analysis. The respondents were mostly retired (71.2%), female (83.3%), and >60 years of age (63.5%). Members’ responses indicated that most were generally satisfied with their current treatment (67.3%), considered it efficacious (84.0%), and reported minimal (none or little) side-effects (61.2%). Patient involvement in treatment decisions, however, was reportedly low (49.6% felt insufficiently involved). Patients’ primary impairments were reflected in their treatment priorities: mobility (97.0%), ability to run errands/do shopping (97.1%), do the housework (95.6%), and be independent of others (94.2%). The primary service provided by RL and used by respondents was physiotherapy (70.6%), which was reported to benefit physical function and mood by over 90.0% of respondents.
Conclusion: RA had a detrimental effect upon respondents' quality of life, specifically impairing their ability to perform daily tasks and causing pain/emotional distress. Independence and mobility were strong priorities for respondents. Physical therapy, provided by RL, was felt to help both physical and mental/emotional health.
Keywords: rheumatoid arthritis, patient survey, quality of life, patient satisfaction
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