Treatment choices, preferences and decision-making by patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Musculoskeletal Care. 2008 Mar;6(1):1-14. doi: 10.1002/msc.110.


Objectives: To explore rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient treatment preferences, their decision-making and the treatment choices they would make when faced with three anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) therapy options.

Methods: Two methods of enquiry were used: postal questionnaire and one-to-one interviews. RA patients not taking anti-TNF-alpha medications were asked to complete a questionnaire after reading a written scenario, which involved choosing and identifying factors that influenced their treatment choice from three anti-TNF-alpha therapies: etanercept (Enbrel), adalimumab (Humira) and infliximab (Remicade). Patients who had tried more than one anti-TNF-alpha medication were asked at one-to-one interviews for their treatment preferences and how their current treatment had been decided.

Results: Both interviewees and questionnaire respondents chose adalimumab as their preferred treatment. Interviewees identified lack of control, convenience and technical issues as influencing treatment choice. Questionnaire respondents were less likely than interviewees to want to participate in making decisions about the selection of anti-TNF-alpha therapy. There were few gender differences. Patients younger than 61 years old were more confident about self-administering treatment, and preferred subcutaneous (sc) over intravenous (iv) medication, as this reduced regular hospital attendance. Older patients preferred health care staff to administer treatment and more readily identified 'contact with other patients/meeting others' and 'staff availability if problems arise' as factors influencing choice.

Conclusions: RA patients demonstrate a clear treatment preference. Different factors influence patients who choose sc compared with iv medications. Many RA patients either wished to share in treatment decisions or relinquish responsibility to the health professional when choosing anti-TNF-alpha therapy. Patients require reassurance and continuing dialogue with clinicians to manage their condition optimally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adalimumab
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Choice Behavior
  • Decision Making*
  • Etanercept
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use
  • Infliximab
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Infliximab
  • Adalimumab
  • Etanercept