Smoking doubles the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and continuing to smoke after being diagnosed has negative effects on patients. In an Arthritis Care & Research study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis who smoked, certain healthcare factors were linked with a higher likelihood that patients would quit smoking.
In the study that included 507 patients who smoked, 29% quit over a median follow-up of 4.75 years. Compared with other patients, patients new to rheumatology care were 60% more likely to quit smoking and those in the rural community health system were 66% more likely to quit. Conversely, seropositive patients--who have elevated blood levels of antibodies thought to cause symptoms of their disease--were 43% less likely to quit. Demographic factors were not predictive of smoking cessation.
"Our findings point to the impact of health teams that systematically support tobacco cessation, processes that were in place at the rural clinic. Likewise, they highlight the need to engage seropositive patients who smoke and are at risk for worse rheumatoid arthritis and cardiopulmonary diseases, which we know are leading causes of death in rheumatoid arthritis," said senior author Christie M. Bartels, MD, MS, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.