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The journey of rheumatoid arthritis patients: a review of reported lag times from the onset of symptoms

Authors Barhamain AS, Magliah RF, Shaheen MH, Munassar SF, Falemban AM, Alshareef MM, Almoallim HM

Received 4 April 2017

Accepted for publication 20 June 2017

Published 28 July 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 139—150

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OARRR.S138830

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Chuan-Ju Liu


Alaa S Barhamain,1 Rami F Magliah,1 Mohammad H Shaheen,1 Shurooq F Munassar,1 Ayman M Falemban,1 Mohammed M Alshareef,1 Hani M Almoallim1–3

1Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, 2Alzaidi Chair of Research in Rheumatic Diseases, Umm Alqura University, Makkah, 3Department of Medicine, Dr Soleiman Fakeeh Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Background: Even after achieving tremendous advances in diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), many of the patients undergo delays in diagnosis and initiation of treatment, which leads to worsening of the condition and poor prognosis.
Objective: The objective of this study was to perform a literature review to quantify the lag times in diagnosis and treatment of RA and study the reported factors associated with it.
Methods: The authors searched literature published until September 2016 in electronic full-text and abstract databases and hand-searched the suitable articles.
Results: The weighted average of median lag time from symptom onset to therapy was 11.79 months (12 studies, 5,512 patients, range 3.6–24.0 months). Lag1 was 3.14 months (onset of symptoms to first physician consultant; 12 studies, 6,055 patients, range 0–5.7 months); lag2 was 2.13 months (physician visit to RA specialist referral; 13 studies, 34,767 patients, range 0.5–6.6 months); lag3 was 2.91 months (consultation with rheumatologist to diagnosis; 3 studies, 563 patients, range 0–5 months), lag4 was 2.14 months (diagnosis to initiation of disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy; 5 studies, 30,685 patients, range 0–2.2 months). Numerous patient- and physician-related factors like gender, ethnicity, primary care physician knowledge of the condition, availability of diagnostics, and so on were responsible for the delays.
Conclusion: This review estimated the delay times and identified the main factors for delay in RA patients in diagnosis and initiation of treatment. A most plausible solution to this is coordinated effort by the rheumatology and primary care physicians.

Keywords: arthritis, rheumatoid, rheumatologists, lag time, delay, diagnosis, disease management

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