Survey of Rheumatoid Arthritis Shows Surprising Nz Stats
Global Survey of Rheumatoid Arthritis Shows Surprising Nz Statistics
Wellington, 19 September 2013 – Ahead of its annual appeal week, Arthritis New Zealand announced the findings from the largest global rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient survey, to help educate New Zealanders living with RA and their supporters about the challenges of living with the condition.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in New Zealand. The survey which included 273 New Zealanders, reported that about two in five RA patients (41%) say that their job/career or ability to work was negatively impacted. Half of these patients say they have had to stop working altogether for a period of time – compared with 39% globally.
Sandra Kirby, Chief Executive of Arthritis New Zealand says, “There is clearly a need for patients and doctors to work together to develop a long-term strategy to manage RA. We are concerned that while many New Zealanders recognise that RA is a severe progressive and destructive disease, only 29% have a disease management plan in place. If not managed properly long term advanced RA can result in permanent joint destruction, disability and loss of work.”
Findings from the survey emphasise the challenges of this condition as patients and healthcare professionals balance pain management and the identification of underlying joint deterioration. While a majority of RA patients say they know a great deal or a moderate amount about the condition, 64% mistakenly associate lack of pain with RA being under control.
“During high levels of disease activity, sufferers experience a flare -- joints become swollen, stiff, and painful. You can also have low levels of disease activity that come and go and have mild symptoms.
“Joint destruction might not be top of mind for people with RA, especially those with minimal pain, but the irreversible disability it causes is why it is the focus of rheumatology experts,” said Kirby.
The survey also found that, compared to their global counterparts, patients in New Zealand are more likely to have felt powerless (27%) and uncertain (37%) when asked how they felt about living with RA.
“Patients who have a disease management plan with their healthcare provider are nearly twice as likely to feel hopeful and confident about living with their RA as those who do not,” said Dr John Petrie, New Zealand Rheumatologist.
“The more people are involved with the management of their disease, the more in control they will feel about it. That’s why we are asking people living with RA to pledge to talk to their doctor about their experiences with RA and their goals for the future,” says Petrie.
The survey included 10,171 patients from 42 countries and is part of RA:Join the Fight, a global initiative which aims to be a global source of information for those living with RA and their support networks.
RA: Join the Fight is issuing a worldwide call-to-action for increased patient involvement in RA disease management. Patients are encouraged to visit www.RAJointheFight.com to take the pledge and collaborate with their doctor to develop a plan to manage their disease.
Arthritis New Zealand appeal week is from 24 to 30 September, with a nationwide street appeal on Friday 27 September.
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