[Burden of illness. First routine report on socio-medical consequences of inflammatory rheumatic disease in Germany].
ABSTRACT A synopsis of different socio-medical consequences of inflammatory rheumatic diseases is not yet available for Germany. Therefore, the data reported during the past decade for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematodes, and Wegener's granulomatosis are summarized in this article. Apart from clinical studies, relevant data sources were the national data base of the German collaborative arthritis centres, statistical figures from the compulsory health insurance and the national pension insurance scheme. Data were mainly available for sick leave and work disability showing limitations, which frequently occurred during the early course of diseases and increased with disease duration. Furthermore, different risk factors were identified. Measures to maintain continued participation in the labour force, such as part-time employment, partial work disability instead of full work disability, were not being adequately utilized. Only few data regarding the need of help and care were available. The proportion of patients in need of help and care increased with the duration of rheumatoid arthritis to more than 50% after more than 2 decades. This review presents detailed information concerning aspects of the burden of rheumatic diseases, which are frequently not adequately taken into account. They may be useful for the advice and care of individual patients as well as for decision processes concerning the health care system.