Author(s): Sany J, Dropsy R, Daurs JP
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To conduct an epidemiological study of rheumatoid arthritis patients seen by office-based rheumatologists in France (first semester of 1996). METHODS: Cross-sectional study of 1629 rheumatoid arthritis patients conducted by 373 office-based rheumatologists who volunteered for the study (one visit per patient). Each rheumatologist was to complete a 200-variable questionnaire for the first four rheumatoid arthritis patients who came to their office. RESULTS: Women contributed 81\% of the sample (mean age, 57 years); 19\% of patients were seen in the Paris area, 20\% in the North East, 20\% in the North West, 22\% in the South East and 19\% in the South West. Twenty-nine per cent of patients had a paid job and 21.1\% (all women) were homemakers. Among the patients with a paid job, 44\% were on sick leave, with the reason for the sick leave being the rheumatoid arthritis in 36\% of cases. Nineteen per cent of patients had stopped working permanently because of their rheumatoid arthritis, after a mean disease duration of six years. Mean disease duration in the overall sample was eight years. The diagnosis was established within six months of symptom onset in 75\% of cases. A family history of rheumatoid arthritis was found in 11\% of patients and a family history of other autoimmune diseases in 2\%. The disease was precipitated by a stressful life event in 17\% of cases. Follow-up was being provided only by the study rheumatologist in 59\% of cases and also by a general practitioner in 39\%. The disease was quiescent in 9\% of cases, minimally active in 32\%, moderately active in 46\% and severely active in 13\%. Eighty-four per cent of patients were on one (78\%) or more (6\%) second-line drugs including methotrexate (45\%), an antimalarial (17\%), intramuscular gold (14\%), tiopronin (9\%), D-penicillamine (6\%) and sulfasalazine (12\%). Fifty-two per cent of patients were on steroid therapy (mean dose, 7.5 +/- 5.7 mg/d). Other drugs included nonsteroidal antiinflammatory agents (61\%), analgesics (61\%), gastroduodenal protective agents (45\%) and anxiety-relieving agents (10\%). Twenty-four per cent of patients had had one or more surgical procedures (mean, 3/patient) for their joint disease. CONCLUSION: This nation-wide epidemiological survey conducted in France provides a database on the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis patients followed in private practice.
This article was published in Rev Rhum Engl Ed
and referenced in Journal of Arthritis