Public Release:  EULAR 2013 highlights

Launch of European Rheumatology Research Foundation, new classification criteria for systemic sclerosis and evaluation of recommendations for chronic inflammatory arthritis

European League Against Rheumatism

Madrid, Spain, 12 June 2013: The launch of the European Rheumatology Research Foundation (ERRF) was today announced at EULAR 2013, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism.

The European Rheumatology Research Foundation (ERRF) is an independent, non-profit body devoted to promoting research in rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs). The ERRF supports high-quality, peer-reviewed research by raising funds from commercial and non-commercial donors. The ERRF aims to support basic and applied research in order to reduce the burden of disease for individuals with RMDs.

Professor Josef Smolen, President of ERRF, commented that "the foundation aims to recognise research and innovation in the field of rheumatology, which is crucial for improving our understanding of the causes of and pathways to RMDs, as well as their prevention and management. By supporting basic and clinical research, the ERRF aims to improve the quality of life and socio-economic conditions of more than 120 million Europeans living with RMDs."

"Thanks to a donation from EULAR, this year we are in a position to call for research proposals in the field of osteoarthritis. As the most common joint disorder in the world, and a leading cause of pain, disability and loss of function in adults, more research is needed to meet this significant unmet patient need," concluded Professor Paul Emery, Chair of the Executive Committee of the ERRF.

Revised systemic sclerosis classification to improve diagnosis

Collaboration between EULAR and the American College of Rheumatology has resulted in the development of new classification criteria for systemic sclerosis (SSc), replacing the 1980s criteria developed by the American Rheumatism Association (ARA), to improve diagnosis in patients with early and mild forms of the disease.

The President of EULAR, Professor Maxime Dougados said "systemic sclerosis is a debilitating chronic disease associated with skin thickening and changes to blood vessels, particularly those supplying the fingers and toes. This hardening of the skin is caused by a build-up of scar tissue, which can also occur in internal organs causing significant damage. The complexity and severity of SSc is a growing burden on healthcare systems; using up-to-date recommendations to accurately diagnose patients will allow them to properly treated."

A prospective observational study of 321 patients with SSc demonstrated that sensitivity of the new EULAR-ACR classification criteria for the overall cohort was 67% compared to 51% for the old ARA criteria, allowing more individuals to be classified as definitive SSc patients.

Evaluation of recommendations for the role of nurses in chronic inflammatory arthritis

Other announcements today included a study evaluating the application and agreement of recent EULAR recommendations for the role of nurses in the management of chronic inflammatory arthritis (CIA). The recommendations were distributed and assessed via a survey of 3594 nurses, rheumatologists and patients from 23 countries. Agreement and application of the recommendations was ranked on a scale of 0-10 (0: none, 10: high).

Agreement with the recommendations scored highly: the mean level of agreement was highest among nurses (8.1-9.8) and lowest among rheumatologists (6.8-9.5). Application of the recommendations was lower: the level of application was highest among nurses (5.6-7.3) and lowest among patients (2.6-5.7).

Disagreement with the recommendations from rheumatologists reportedly stemmed from doubts about the expertise of the nurses, whereas patients' disagreement mostly came from not wanting to lose contact with their rheumatologist.

EULAR formulated ten recommendations, seven of which covered the contribution of nurses to care and management of CIA. Large variances for the role of nurses in the management of CIA exist specifically between countries and regions. These data provide valuable information to support strategies for further implementation of the recommendations and homogenisation of rheumatology nursing care.



For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress Press Office in room A10:14 of the Congress Centre during EULAR 2013 or on:


EULAR Press Office

Onsite tel: +44 (0) 20 7331 5364 / 5380 / 5318 / 2305


  • The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is an umbrella organisation which represents scientific societies, health professional associations and organisations of people with rheumatic diseases throughout Europe
  • In line with the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS), EULAR defines rheumatology as including rheumatic diseases of the connective tissue, locomotor and musculoskeletal systems.
  • EULAR aims to promote, stimulate and support the research, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of rheumatic diseases
  • With 45 scientific member societies, 36 People with Arthritis and Rheumatism in Europe (PARE) organisations and 11 health professionals associations, EULAR underscores the importance of combating rheumatic diseases not only through medical means, but also through patient care
  • EULAR 2013 is set to be the biggest rheumatology event in Europe with over 14,000 scientists, physicians, allied health professionals and related audiences in attendance from more than 110 countries. Over the course of the congress there will be more than 320 oral and 1,800 poster abstract presentations, and 750 lectures with 330 invited speakers
  • To find out more about the activities of EULAR, visit:

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