Health Union conducted a national survey of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and found that the condition has a severe impact on employment, quality of life and capacity of affordable treatment. RA is an autoimmune disorder that causes pain, inflammation in the joints, swelling and stiffness. Worldwide, the condition affects 1% of the population. Results from the survey indicate that 94% of patients with RA reported that the condition disrupted their daily routines, and 67% noted that they do not comprehend the full scope of their symptom severity.
“Many people do not know rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive, autoimmune disease and not the result of aging and wear on the body, like osteoarthritis the most common form of arthritis,” said in a recent news release Andrew Lumpe, PhD, a patient with RA and a regular contributor to RheumatoidArthritis.net. “Treatment can help slow the damage, but rheumatoid arthritis frequently alters the lives of both patients and their families.”
Results from the study indicate that 37% of the patients are working full time and from these, 72% mentioned their work become affected because of the condition due to pain (84%), fatigue (92%) and physical limitation (50%). Because of these complaints, patients reported to have reduced their working hours, indicating that they needed help with routine activities, including cleaning (75%) and other home duties (52%). 41% said that a caregiver is involved in helping with the management of the condition.
Nearly half of the patients that took part in the survey said they were satisfied with the clinical management of their condition, while 21% of the patients mentioned dissatisfaction with their treatments. The majority of satisfied patients were receiving treatment with biologics. From those patients in RA remission, 74% said that remission occurred following treatment with medication.
Results from the survey also indicated that 38% of the patients avoid medication due to the high cost, while 30% mentioned they have spent about $2,000 on treatments during the previous 12 months. A total of 41% of the patients participating in the survey received manufacturer-sponsored financial assistance programs for medication, with the grand majority of patients (87%) saying they were satisfied, while the main reason that patients gave for not participating in these kinds of programs was their lack of knowledge.
“The affordability of effective rheumatoid arthritis treatments is a serious concern,” said Mariah Leach, an RA patient and contributor to RheumatoidArthritis.net. “When you consider the burden this disease places on patients in terms of quality of life and employment, it is clear that supporting these individuals with treatment options can yield many benefits.”
“Surveys like RA In America can help us better understand the challenges and how to meet the needs of people living with serious chronic conditions,” said Tim Armand, president and co-founder of Health Union. “Health care providers and caregivers can adjust treatment and supports with a more vivid picture of the patient experience.”
A total of 3,561 Americans with an RA diagnosis took part in the survey, which was conducted online in the fall of 2014.