Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the cells lining a body’s joints causing them to become swollen, stiff, and painful.
Arthritis Ireland has published research showing how the lives of people are impacted by rheumatoid arthritis. Those who participated in the survey were, on average, diagnosed at about 40 years of age and had the disease for 10 years.
It shows that 50% of people surveyed had to change jobs; 17% had to retire from work, and 13% were forced to quit because of their condition.
Almost one in four (24%) reduced their working hours.
Around 40,000 people in Ireland have rheumatoid arthritis, and most (70%) are women.
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but early diagnosis and appropriate treatment allows many people with the condition to reduce the number of flare-ups, lead full lives, and remain at work.
Almost 200 people with rheumatoid arthritis who are being treated by a rheumatologist were included in the Harris Poll online survey for Pfizer.
The study is part of the drug company’s initiative to elevate the role of the patient in the successful management of the disease.
In addition to the impact on career, most (88%) people with rheumatoid arthritis worry about the disease getting worse — 65% fear they will become disabled, and 64% are concerned about the damage caused to their joints.
More than three quarters (77%) of those surveyed are currently taking prescription medicines but wish they did not have to take so many drugs.
Three out of four (76%) sometimes worry that their medication will fail and more than half (52%) wish they had more medication options.
Seven out of 10 (69%) worry that rheumatoid arthritis will negatively affect their quality of life and most (64%) fear they will not be able to live independently.
Consultant rheumatologist, Prof Doug Veale, said the research is “incredibly insightful” and a welcome development in identifying the needs of patients.
Arthritis Ireland’s head of services, Gráinne O’Leary, said the survey shows that quality of life is a primary concern for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
“This new research identifies the need for greater services around the country to assist those with rheumatoid arthritis to live a normal, active live and to empower them to work with their specialist to manage the condition.”