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What rheumatoid arthritis patients want

Clinical bottom line

Pain is the area of health that almost 70% of rheumatoid arthritis patients would most like improved.


T Heiberg, TK Kvien. Preferences for improved health examined in 1,024 patients with rheumatoid arthritis: pain has highest priority. Arthritis "&" Rheumatism 200247: 391-397.


The basis of the study was patients on the Oslo RA register, with 1,552 patients at the time of the study. An extensive survey was mailed in 1994 to all patients. The results presented refer to one question where patients were asked to indicate three of 12 areas where they would most like to see improvement.


Figure 1 shows the results in 1,024 (66%) of patients who responded (average age 63 years, 78% women). Overwhelmingly pain was the area they most wanted improvement, and almost 7 out of 10 wanted this. Patients wanting better pain relief tended to use more analgesics and disease-modifying drugs, though one third of these and all patients used no analgesics.

Figure 1: RA patients - areas for improvement


This important study, though conducted some years ago, shows the importance of pain management for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.