Patient participation in decisions about disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs: a cross-sectional survey

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014 Oct 4:15:333. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-333.


Background: Involvement of patients in decision-making about medication is currently being advocated. This study examined (the concordance between) inflammatory arthritis patients' preferred and perceived involvement in decision-making in general, and in four specific decisions about Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs). Furthermore, this study examined how patients' involvement is related to satisfaction about decision-making and which factors are related to preferred roles, perceived roles and concordance.

Methods: Using a cross-sectional survey, 894 patients diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis were sent a questionnaire which focused on medical decisions in general and on four specific decisions: (a) starting with a traditional DMARD; (b) starting to inject methotrexate; (c) starting a biological DMARD; and (d) decreasing or stopping a DMARD. For each decision preferred and perceived involvement in decision-making was assessed using the Control Preference Scale. Concordance was calculated by subtracting the scores for perceived role from scores for the preferred role. Furthermore, satisfaction with the decision process and socio-demographic, health-related, patient-related and physician-related variables were assessed.

Results: The response rate was 58%. For all decisions, most patients (59%-63%) preferred Shared Decision-Making (SDM). SDM was perceived frequently (26%-55%) and patients' preferences were met in 54% of the respondents. Yet, in some specific decisions, 26% to 54% of patients would have liked more participation. Perceiving less participation then preferred was associated with less satisfaction with the decision-process, but perceiving more participation than preferred was not. Our results did not reveal any meaningful models to predict preferred or perceived participation in decision-making in general or with reference to specific decisions about DMARDs.

Conclusions: Most arthritis patients prefer to be involved in decisions about their medication and SDM is perceived frequently. Yet, in some specific decisions patient participation can be further improved. Patients especially prefer more participation in decision-making regarding starting a first traditional DMARD, which occurs most commonly in newly diagnosed patients. Whereas perceiving too little participation was associated with decreased satisfaction, perceiving too much participation was not. Therefore, rheumatologists should urge patients to participate in every medical decision.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis / diagnosis
  • Arthritis / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation / methods*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*


  • Antirheumatic Agents