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Published on 26 May 2011

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Rheumatoid arthritis patients value personalised goal setting


  • A survey of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients from six countries showed 87% agreed that establishing personal treatment targets and achieving them would have a positive impact on their disease management
  • However, 73% stated that their healthcare professional (HCP) did not discuss treating RA with an approach that achieved personal or social targets

UCB today announced data that showed patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) believe that personalised goal setting can have a positive impact on their disease management. However, while the majority of patients surveyed (87%) agreed with this, almost as many (73%) stated that their healthcare professional (HCP) did not discuss approaches that achieved personal targets. The results from the ‘Getting to Your Destination Faster’ Survey were presented during the Annual Meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) in London, May 25–28.

“As the range of therapeutic options for management of RA expands, the expectations of RA patients will increase correspondingly. The insights gained from this study should provide invaluable insights that will guide patients with RA and their healthcare providers towards continual improvement in management strategies with the goal of optimising quality of life,” said lead investigator Professor Peter C. Taylor, Head of Clinical Trials and Campus Dean, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, London, UK.

The survey showed that while many patients felt that a personalised targeted approach was not discussed, the majority of patients (62%) agreed that decisions about how to treat their RA were generally shared between the HCP and themselves. The results indicate that patients would like further help from HCPs to determine and set goals to assess for themselves whether treatment is working. These findings reflect the recent EULAR recommendations for the management of RA, which state that treatment of patients with RA must be based on a shared decision between the patient and the rheumatologist, and that treatment targets should be established early and reached within three to six months if possible.

A previous survey (the ‘Good Days’ Survey) examined the impact of RA on daily life and showed that the disease has a negative impact on employment, productivity, emotions and intimate relationships, and causes patients to feel isolated. This follow up survey was conducted to examine patients’ expectations of treatment and outcomes in RA care, particularly their awareness of targeted treatment goals and their treatment goal setting practices.

Patient Treatment Perceptions
Respondents were asked the length of time they expected to feel an improvement when given a medicine. The majority of respondents (75%), when given a medicine for their RA signs and symptoms, expected to feel an improvement within three months, with 20% citing three to six months and only 5% expecting to wait over six months to feel an improvement. Regarding how long respondents would wait to speak to their HCP if they felt a new treatment was not working, the majority of respondents (56%) said that they would wait one month or less. Additionally, over half (54%) respondents said finding the right treatment option was the biggest obstacle in controlling their RA symptoms.

Personal, Social and Treatment Goal Setting
The survey explored respondents’ awareness of goal setting practices. Results showed when starting a new treatment, 81% of respondents set personal or social goals, and 91% set treatment goals. Importantly, 80% felt setting personal and social goals would be of benefit to assess whether a treatment was working. The majority of respondents (64%) agreed that a targeted approach to successful management was setting personal, lifestyle and treatment goals, and monitoring progress to achieve them. The majority of respondents (84%) believed that a treatment works if it helps them achieve their personal/social goals fast.

“The message we are getting from patients in this survey is that personalised goals help them to quantify treatment success, and generally patients want to know this information quickly,” said Scott Fleming, Global Communications Manager, Immunology from UCB. “Insights from this study reinforce existing evidence around the importance of goal setting in RA treatment, and the need for fast-acting treatments.”


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