Quality Care in Seniors With New-Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Canadian Perspective

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Arthritis care & research 01/2011; 63(1):53-7. DOI: 10.1002/acr.20304
Source: PubMed


To estimate the percentage of seniors with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) receiving disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) within the first year of diagnosis.
We assembled an incident RA cohort from Ontario physician billing data for 1997-2006. We used a standard algorithm to identify 24,942 seniors with RA based on ≥ 2 billing codes ≥ 60 days apart but within 5 years. Drug exposures were obtained from pharmacy claims data. We followed subjects for 1 year, assessing if they had been exposed (defined as ≥ 1 prescription) to 1 or more DMARDs within the first year of RA diagnosis. We assessed secular trends and differences for subjects who had received rheumatology care (defined as ≥ 1 rheumatology encounter) versus those who had not.
In total, only 39% of the 24,942 seniors with new-onset RA identified over 1997-2006 were exposed to DMARD therapy within 1 year of diagnosis. This increased from 30% in 1997 to 53% in 2006. Patients whose care involved a rheumatologist were more likely to be exposed to DMARDs than those who had no rheumatology care. In 2006, 67% of subjects receiving rheumatology care were exposed to DMARDs versus 21% of those with no rheumatology care.
Improvements in RA care have occurred, but more efforts are needed. Subjects receiving rheumatology care are much more likely to receive DMARDs as compared to those with no rheumatology care. This emphasizes the key role of rheumatologists.

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Available from: Alfred Cividino, Oct 22, 2014
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    • "This study found several patient characteristics associated with lower DMARD use, including black race, lower income, and older age. All studies that have examined the inclusion of a rheumatologist in a patient's care have found this factor to be the strongest predictor of DMARD use, with a 2- to 7-fold increase in prescribing among patients seeing a rheumatologist [4,5,7,8]. These findings are consistent across various countries. "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction Numerous studies across different health systems have documented that many patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) do not receive disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Relatively little is known about correlates of DMARD use and whether there are socioeconomic and demographic disparities. We examined DMARD use during 2001 to 2006 in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS), a longitudinal US survey of randomly selected Medicare beneficiaries. Methods Participants in MCBS with RA were included in the analyses, and DMARD use was based on an in-home assessment of all medications. Variables included as potential correlates of DMARD use in weighted regression models included race/ethnicity, insurance, income, education, rheumatology visit, region, age, gender, comorbidity index, and calendar year. Results The cohort consisted of 509 MCBS participants with a diagnosis code for RA. Their median age was 70 years, 72% were female, and 24% saw a rheumatologist. Rates of DMARD use ranged from 37% among those <75 years of age to 25% of those age 75 to 84 and 4% of those age 85 and older. The multivariable adjusted predictors of DMARD use include: visit with a rheumatologist in the prior year (odds ratio, OR, 7.74, 95% CI, 5.37, 11.1) and older patient age (compared with <75 years, ages 75 to 84, OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.37, 0.92, and 85 and over, OR 0.09, 95% CI 0.02, 0.31). In those without a rheumatology visit, lower income and older age were associated with a significantly reduced probability of DMARD use; no association of DMARD use with income or age was observed for subjects seen by rheumatologists. Race and ethnicity were not significantly associated with receipt of DMARDs. Conclusions Among individuals not seeing rheumatologists, lower income and older age were associated with a reduced probability of DMARD use.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Arthritis research & therapy
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    • "The strongest correlate of DMARD use across multiple studies is the involvement of a rheumatologist in the care of patients with RA [5,7]. Investigators have estimated that patients who see a rheumatologist are four to five times more likely to receive a DMARD than those who receive care from an internist or family practitioner [5,6]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Many people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) do not receive care from a rheumatologist. We surveyed primary care physicians (PCPs) to better understand their attitudes, knowledge, and practices regarding the optimal treatment of RA. Randomly selected PCPs practicing in the US were surveyed. The survey encompassed their experience with RA, use of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and experience with rheumatology referrals. Logistic regression analyses described the responses and examined the correlation between physician variables and use of DMARDs. E-mail invitations were opened by 1, 103 PCPs and completed by 267 (25%). Most respondents were men (68%) in practice for over 10 years (64%) who reported 6 or more RA patients under their care in the last year (71%). The majority reported some RA training after medical school (59%), but only one-third felt very confident managing this condition. Most (81%) reported prescribing DMARDs, but 37% do not initiate them, with only 9% reporting being very confident starting a DMARD. In unadjusted analyses, several respondent characteristics were strongly associated with not prescribing DMARDs, but none was significant after adjustment. Almost half (44%) of PCPs noted that patients report difficulty getting appointments with rheumatologists. We found many PCPs are uncomfortable managing RA with DMARDs, despite common beliefs that their patients lack access to a rheumatologist. Lack of accessibility to rheumatologists and discomfort in prescribing DMARDs for patients with RA are potential barriers to optimal treatment.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Arthritis research & therapy
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    ABSTRACT: Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may differ among rheumatologists and currently, clear and consensual international recommendations on RA treatment are not available. In this paper recommendations for the treatment of RA with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and glucocorticoids (GCs) that also account for strategic algorithms and deal with economic aspects, are described. The recommendations are based on evidence from five systematic literature reviews (SLRs) performed for synthetic DMARDs, biological DMARDs, GCs, treatment strategies and economic issues. The SLR-derived evidence was discussed and summarised as an expert opinion in the course of a Delphi-like process. Levels of evidence, strength of recommendations and levels of agreement were derived. Fifteen recommendations were developed covering an area from general aspects such as remission/low disease activity as treatment aim via the preference for methotrexate monotherapy with or without GCs vis-à-vis combination of synthetic DMARDs to the use of biological agents mainly in patients for whom synthetic DMARDs and tumour necrosis factor inhibitors had failed. Cost effectiveness of the treatments was additionally examined. These recommendations are intended to inform rheumatologists, patients and other stakeholders about a European consensus on the management of RA with DMARDs and GCs as well as strategies to reach optimal outcomes of RA, based on evidence and expert opinion.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2010 · Annals of the rheumatic diseases
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