Improving standards of care for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

INTRODUCTION

A study involving doctors, patients, and policy makers has outlined the conditions needed to improve standards of care for people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Importantly, the EUMUSC.NET project projectstudy was co-financed by the European Community (EC Community Action in the Field of Health 2008– 2013) and by the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR).

WHAT DO WE KNOW ALREADY?

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis cause pain and disability for many people. As part of a programme to improve care for people with these illnesses, a group called the EUMUSC.NET project developed a set of standards of care that they believe should be adopted throughout Europe. These standards of care include providing people with:

  • Timely access to a doctor to diagnose their illness
  • Regular follow-up to check on their illness
  • Access to both drug and non-drug treatments that are supported by research.

The group is now seeking to ensure these standards are widely adopted. This latest research involved a review of existing research plus surveys and focus groups of patients, doctors, and policy makers from 35 countries across Europe. The aim was to ask which facilitators need to be in place to ensure the standards are adopted.

WHAT DOES THE NEW STUDY SAY?

The researchers identified 11 facilitators that need to be in place for doctors, patients, and policy makers to adopt the standards of care.

  • The standards need to be easy to find
  • People need sufficient education to understand them
  • People need to personally agree with the standards
  • There needs to be a shared cultural background, such as shared attitudes, values, and goals
  • People need to have a willingness to engage with the standards
  • People need to be personally motivated to adopt them
  • Professional, patient, and healthcare organisations need to support the standards
  • There needs to be enough facilities and equipment to achieve the standards
  • People need enough time to work to the standards
  • There needs to be enough money to work to the standards
  • People need to believe that the recommendations in the standards will be used.

The surveys and focus groups agreed that these conditions were all important. The most important facilitators were seen as motivation, agreement, personal attitude (willingness), and education. A shared cultural background was seen as least important.

HOW RELIABLE ARE THE FINDINGS?

An important part of this study was the survey of doctors, patients, and policy makers. A survey is a good way of getting a general idea of people’s attitudes. However, out of 1,610 people invited to take part in the survey, only 282 people completed it. This means we can’t be sure whether those who didn’t take part would have
agreed with those who were more motivated to respond.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

This study is a reminder that certain facilitators need to be in place for standards of care to be widely adopted. While it’s important to set high standards of care, it’s also important that people agree with the standards set, are motivated to improve care, and have the right knowledge to understand and put these standards into practice.

Disclaimer: This is a summary of a scientific article written by a medical professional (“the Original Article”). The Summary is written to assist non medically trained readers to understand general points of the Original Article.  It should not be relied on in any way whatsoever, (which also means the Summary is not medical advice), and is simply supplied to aid a lay understanding of general points of the Original Article. It is supplied “as is” without any warranty. You should note that the Original Article (and Summary) may not be accurate as errors can occur and also may be out of date as medical science is constantly changing.  It is very important that readers not rely on the content in the Summary and consult their medical professionals for all aspects of their health care. Do not use this Summary as medical advice even if the Summary is supplied to the reader by a medical professional.
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Date summary prepared: August 2014

Summary based on research article published on: 18 March 2014

From: Moe, R. et al Facilitators to implement standards of care for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis: the EUMUSC.NET project. Ann Rheum Dis 2014;73:1545-1548 doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204980

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