Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disorder in which joints, typically those in the hands and feet, become inflamed, swollen, painful, and stiff. Without appropriate treatment, the inflammation may become chronic and cause irreversible destruction of bone and cartilage in the affected joints as well as contribute to the development of clinically important co-morbid conditions with attendant morbidity and mortality. The National Arthritis Data Workgroup estimates that about 1.3 million U.S. adults (0.6% of the adult population) have RA. RA imposes a considerable disease burden. Patients with RA have substantially lower health-related quality of life (QOL) than the general population with lower overall scores for physical and mental health across all age groups. The RA disease burden also is associated with increased health care resource utilization. Notably, RA patients with low QOL are twice as likely to be hospitalized as RA patients with high QOL.
The revised 2010 ACR/European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Diagnostic Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis expanded the number of potential patients eligible for RA treatment. Moreover, guidelines governing the treatment of RA have been updated fairly recently. The literature suggests that practicing healthcare professionals are oftentimes unable to keep up with the steady publishing of literature and evolution of clinical practice, and awareness of professional guidelines is no exception. Recently published guidelines therefore also inherently suggest a gap in medical practice and justify the need for educational programming.
Rheumatologists and primary care physicians; physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists who practice in rheumatology; and any other healthcare professionals with an interest in or who clinically encounter patients with RA.
By the end of the session the participant will be able to:
Describe the pathophysiology of RA such that it might inform treatment mechanisms.
Describe strengths of different professional organizations’ guidance in RA and treatment.
Identify the currently available and emerging pharmacotherapeutic treatments for management of RA and apply them to patient cases using evidence-based medicine.
Evaluate a treatment plan for a specific patient with RA to optimize safety and efficacy, suggesting modifications for improvement, including the management of comorbidities.
Describe the challenges and barriers to care associated with treating patients with RA.