Survey Highlights Aspects of RA Management That Need Improvement
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Ensuring that you discuss mental health, long-term treatment plans, and potential treatment efficacy with your patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are just some of the ways you may be able to improve your patient-provider relationships, new survey results suggest. The results were released in conjunction with the American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) annual meeting, ACR Convergence.
“Understanding patient satisfaction with their rheumatologist and the drivers of satisfaction is crucial to improving doctor-patient interactions, helping patients get on the right treatment path to help slow progression, and improving health outcomes overall,” the researchers wrote.
To gauge patient satisfaction with their rheumatologist, the researchers sent out a survey to members of the myRAteam social network in January 2020. In all, 374 US members completed the 21-question survey about their provider-patient experience.
Among the respondents, 57% reported that they are satisfied with their rheumatologist and 78% reported feeling as though they can have meaningful conversations with their provider. Most respondents also reported that their provider adequately makes regular recommendations for check-ups (77%) and medications (66%) based on patients’ individual needs.
Furthermore, 61% of responders feel as though their provider listens and truly understands what patients are going through; and 58% of respondents said that their provider spends enough time with patients.
According to the respondents, the biggest challenges in RA management are pain (80%), relentless fatigue (72%), and depression/anxiety (51%). However, the survey also revealed that only 51% of patients feel as though their provider addresses these symptoms.
In addition, the survey results showed the following:
- Percent of respondents who are satisfied with their current treatment: 37%
- Percent of respondents who say that their provider adequately discusses potential side effects: 49%
- Percent of respondents who say that their provider adequately discusses potential treatment efficacy: 47%
- Percent of respondents who say that their provider has developed a long-term plan for treating their progressive disease: 35%
According to the researchers, patients’ level of satisfaction with their provider affects the patient experience.
Among those who are satisfied with their provider, 61% feel as though their treatment is working. Meanwhile, 7% of those who are dissatisfied with their provider feel as though their treatment is working.
Patient satisfaction with their provider also had an impact on the following experiences:
- Percent of responders who feel as though their provider listens to and understands them: 87% among patients who are satisfied; 24% among patients who are dissatisfied
- Percent of responders who feel their provider spends enough time with them: 81% among patients who are satisfied; 26% among patients who are dissatisfied
- Percent of responders who feel their provider addresses symptoms such as pain and depression: 74% among patients who are satisfied; 20% among patients who are dissatisfied
“Understanding the needs of RA patients provides significant opportunities for rheumatologists to better support and educate their patients,” the researchers concluded. “This includes offering a stronger recommendation on treatment path based on the patient’s specific needs and goals, and specific information on diet/exercise approaches. It also means listening to patient concerns and addressing the mental health aspects of RA including pain, depression, and fatigue, and not just disease progression.”
Schneider B, Peacock E. Understanding the rheumatologist-patient relationship in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Study presented at: American College of Rheumatology Convergence 2020; November 5-9, 2020; Virtual. Accessed October 28, 2020. https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/understanding-the-rheumatologist-patient-relationship-in-treating-rheumatoid-arthritis/