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Patient-centred care in rheumatoid arthritis

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Current treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are failing to control patients' pain adequately, and healthcare professionals are not fully addressing patients' concerns, new research suggests.

Data presented at the recent European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) annual congress in Paris, has highlighted a mismatch between the perceptions of patients and professionals as to what constitutes effective management of RA.1

The wrong focus
Rheumatologists who treat RA tend to monitor response to treatment by focusing on how many joints remain tender and swollen, and by the level of markers of active inflammatory disease in the circulation, study lead Dr Peter Taylor of The Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Imperial College London, explained.

If these are reduced by treatment, patients should feel the benefit. However, many patients experience insufficient improvement to make a difference to their quality of life. They feel doctors are not sufficiently focused on aspects of their illness that concern them most and which play a major role in their wellbeing.

Residual pain despite treatment, disturbed sleep, fatigue and depression do not always abate in line with markers of suppressed inflammation, Dr Taylor noted. The result is that patients' ability to work, be productive while at work, or carry out household chores, suffers.

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