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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
3-Dec-2013

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Disability, distress in RA patients cut in half over last 20 years

New research reveals that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) today have an easier time with daily living than patients diagnosed two decades ago. According to results of the study published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), anxiety, depressed mood and physical disability have been cut in half over the last 20 years. Researchers believe a reduction in disease activity is partly responsible for this positive change.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to one percent of the world population experience pain and swelling of joints caused by RA, a systemic autoimmune disease. Over time, RA may impair daily function and lead to significant disability, with studies showing the disease is a threat to physical function and psychological well-being. However, improved treatment options including early therapy intervention, use of biologics, and more intensive therapy have helped to reduce disease activity.

"Earlier diagnosis, more intensive interventions along with recommendations to live a full life and to be physically active may help improve daily living for those with RA," explains lead author, CÚcile L. Overman, a Ph.D. Candidate with the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University in The Netherlands. "Our study examined if psychological distress and physical disability in RA patients reduced over the last two decades."

For the present study, researchers recruited 1151 with newly diagnosed RA between 1990 and 2011. Participants were 17 to 86 years of age with 68% being female. Each participant was assessed at the time of diagnosis and monitored for the following three to five years.

Findings indicate that after the first four years of treatment 20 years ago, 23% of RA patients reported anxiety, 25% depressed mood, and 53% had physical disability compared to 12%, 14% and 31%, respectively, today. The decrease in physical disability remained significant even after adjusting for reduced disease activity. Results suggest that the downward trend in physical disability, anxiety, and depressed mood may be due in part to reduced disease activity.

"Our study determined that currently, 1 out of 4 newly diagnosed RA patients are disabled after the first four years of treatment; while 20 years ago, that figure was higher at 2 out of 4 patients," concludes Ms. Overman. "Today, RA patients have a better opportunity of living a valued life than patients diagnosed with this autoimmune disease two decades ago."

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This study is published in Arthritis Care & Research. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact sciencenewsroom@wiley.com.

Full citation: "Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Nowadays are Less Psychologically Distressed and Physically Disabled Than Patients Two Decades Ago." CÚcile L. Overman, Maud S. Jurgens, Ercolie R. Bossema, Johannes W.G. Jacobs, Johannes W.J. Bijlsma and Rinie Geenen. Arthritis Care and Research; Published Online: December 3, 2013 (DOI: 10.1002/acr.22211).

URL Upon Publication: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/acr.22211

Author Contact: To arrange an interview with Ms. Overman, please contact , Mr. Ronnie van Veen at R.A.B.vanVeen@uu.nl or +31 30 253 4027.

About the Journal

Arthritis Care & Research is an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP), a division of the College. Arthritis Care & Research is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes both original research and review articles that promote excellence in the clinical practice of rheumatology. Relevant to the care of individuals with arthritis and related disorders, major topics are evidence-based practice studies, clinical problems, practice guidelines, health care economics, health care policy, educational, social, and public health issues, and future trends in rheumatology practice. The journal is published by Wiley on behalf of the ACR. For more information, please visit the journal home page at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/acr.

About Wiley

Wiley is a global provider of content-enabled solutions that improve outcomes in research, education, and professional practice. Our core businesses produce scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, reference works, books, database services, and advertising; professional books, subscription products, certification and training services and online applications; and education content and services including integrated online teaching and learning resources for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners.

Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: JWa, JWb), has been a valued source of information and understanding for more than 200 years, helping people around the world meet their needs and fulfill their aspirations. Wiley and its acquired companies have published the works of more than 450 Nobel laureates in all categories: Literature, Economics, Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Peace. Wiley's global headquarters are located in Hoboken, New Jersey, with operations in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia. The Company's website can be accessed at http://www.wiley.com.



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