Pfizer’s Newest RA Survey Finds a Disconnect in Doctor-Patient Communication

Pfizer’s Newest RA Survey Finds a Disconnect in Doctor-Patient Communication

Pfizer recently reported the results from the second phase of its global survey — RA NarRAtive — involving more than 1,700 rheumatologists in 15 countries. The rheumatoid arthritis (RA) surveys, an ongoing initiative sponsored by Pfizer and led by the Global RA NarRAtive Advisory Panel, is evaluating the relationship between physician-patient communication and overall disease management.

Results of the two surveys — the first involving people with RA — show a disconnection between patients and their doctors in many aspects of RA management, the company announced in a news release. Two in three doctors said their patients reported they feel “good enough,” even though clinical evaluations showed active disease.

Moreover, most doctors (78%) thought that setting treatment targets and developing a plan to manage RA (74%) with their patients is critical for the effective management of the disease. However, parallel results from the patient survey, released in 2015 and involving more than 3,900 adults with RA, found that few have shared their doctors’ treatment targets or even understand they have a disease management plan.

“Physicians are likely discussing both goals and disease management plans with their patients; however, patients may not be aware due to differences in the language or terminology used when discussing these measures,” Dr. Alan Gibofsky, a co-chair of the RA advisory panel and a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, said in the release. “These potential communication gaps confirm the need for a joint commitment to improved dialogue focused on changing the narrative around the management of RA.”

Findings in the physicians’ survey provide highlight both differences and similarities in patient and doctor perspectives:

  • Many don’t benefit from shared-decision making: The majority of doctors reported that RA patients who are involved in making treatment goals are more likely to be satisfied with their disease management experience than those not as involved, but more than half of patients reported not being comfortable with questioning their doctors or raising concerns and fears, out of worries their questions would impact their quality of care.
  • Physician and patients have distinct RA management priorities: Physicians tend to discuss side effects and a patient’s ability to follow a proposed treatment plan more than they discuss issues related to quality of life, despite the fact that more than half of patients surveyed were concerned with the negative impact their disease might have on life quality.
  • Underutilization of advocacy support groups:  Four in five physicians thought that patients taking part in RA support groups tend to better cope with their disease, but less than one-quarter of patients are currently taking part in these groups.

“Closing the gaps in communication between patient and physician can help improve RA management,” said Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer, Pfizer. “We look forward to applying the learnings of the RA NarRAtive survey to tools and resources that can facilitate effective dialogue.”

Thirty-nine healthcare providers and patient group leaders from 17 countries are members of the RA NarRAtive Advisory Panel.

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