Objectives: Unmet needs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients regarding physician/patient communication, treatment preferences and quality of life issues were investigated in a Turkish survey study.
Methods: The study was conducted with the contribution of 33 rheumatologists, and included 519 RA patients. The study population included patients who had been on biologic therapy for >6 months and were still receiving biologic therapy (BT group), and those who were biologic naive, but found eligible for biologic treatment (NBT group). Of the RA patients, 35.5% initially had a visit to an internal disease specialist, 25.5% to a physical therapy and rehabilitation specialist, and 12.2% to a rheumatology specialist for their RA complaints. The diagnosis of RA was made by a rheumatologist in 48.2% of patients.
Results: The majority of RA patients (86.3%) visit their doctor within 15-week intervals. Most of the physician-patient communication focused on disease symptoms (99.0%) and impact of the disease on quality of life (61.8%). The proportion of RA patients who perceived their health status as good/very good/excellent was higher in the BT group than in the NBT group (74.3% vs. 51.5%, p<0.001). However, of those RA patients in the NBT group, only 24.8% have been recommended to start a biologic treatment by their doctors. With respect to dose frequency options, once-monthly injections were preferred (80%) to a bi-weekly injection schedule (8%).
Conclusions: In conclusion, RA patients receiving biologic therapy reported higher rates of improved symptoms and better quality of life and seemed to be more satisfied with their treatment in our study.