Improved Dialogue Needed Among Physicians and Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Survey indicates a disconnect among caregivers and the RA patients they treat.

The second phase of Pfizer’s global rheumatoid arthritis (RA) surveys revealed a disconnect between patients and physicians and overall RA disease management.

The survey involved 1700 rheumatologists in 15 countries and the results were combined with findings from the global patient survey ending in 2015, which included 3900 RA adults.

New data found that 2 in 3 physicians reported their RA patients say they feel “good enough,” even though clinical assessments indicated active disease.

The results of the study showed that 78% of physicians believe that setting treatment goals is essential for successfully managing RA, while 74% believed in developing a disease management plan.

When comparing the results against the patient survey, it revealed that few have shared their treatment goals or knew they had a disease management plan set in place.

“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,” said Alan Gibofsky, RA NarRAtive advisory panel co-chair. “These potential communication gaps confirm the need for a joint commitment to improved dialogue focused on changing the narrative around the management of RA.”

Additional information was revealed in the similarities and differences among physician and patient perspectives.

Physicians indicated that those involved in RA management and treatment decisions were more satisfied with their treatment experience versus those who were not. Physicians and patients both noted that they were satisfied with the communication about treatment options, however, more than half of patients were uncomfortable communicating concerns to their physicians.

Additionally, many patients worried that asking too many questions would affect the quality of care.

Although more than half of individuals in the patient survey were worried their RA would negatively affect their overall quality of life, physicians were more likely to discuss side effects and patient medication adherence than quality of life issues.

Every 4 in 5 physicians reported the belief that patients who participated in RA support groups were more likely to live better with RA, but less than one-quarter of patients were found to currently participate in support or patient advocacy 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 at Pfizer. “We look forward to applying the learnings of the RA NarRAtive survey to tools and resources that can facilitate effective dialogue.”