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Standing Committee on Epidemiology and Health Services Research: past, present, and future
  1. THOMAS L VISCHER, EULAR President
  1. Maastricht
    1. S J VAN DER LINDEN
    1. Maastricht

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      EULAR, with its 42 member countries, needs a forum in which its activities and preoccupations can be communicated to its members. As all those who attended the first annual congress at Nice will receive the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases,the EULAR journal, it seems useful to provide an overview of EULAR's continuing activities from time to time. Hence the inclusion of a EULAR news section.

      The first article in this section appeared in the June issue (p419), proposing the establishment of a EULARSurveillance Registry for Biological Compounds. Other articles will follow, including reports from the chairmen of the standing committees, where most of the important activities of EULAR take place.

      If you feel concerned about some of the issues reported and would like to take part in any activity, please contact the corresponding chairman. We need active participation in our work!

      Report presented at the EULAR Congress in Nice, June 2000

      At their meetings in Geneva and Glasgow, members of the standing committee discussed the mission statement of this EULAR committee. It was concluded that the area of health services research is definitely within the scope of this EULAR committee. The name has now been changed accordingly to better reflects its activities. The mission is (1) to clearly demonstrate the enormous burden of illness due to rheumatological conditions and their consequences, and (2) to show that this burden can be reduced effectively. The full mission statement has now been published inRheumatology in Europe and on the EULAR web site pages. From now on all information on the standing committee will be published both in EULAR's own journal—namely, theAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases and on the EULAR internet site (www.eular.org), including pages for the standing committee. Electronic communication will increasingly facilitate interaction between committee members.

      The burden of illness due to rheumatic conditions can be expressed not only in the traditional terms of prevalence, incidence, and duration of disease, but also in its consequences, such as increased mortality, functional limitations, including sick leave and number of work days lost, and other indicators of health resources utilisation. Nowadays, insight into the economic consequences of rheumatic diseases is becoming increasingly important everywhere. Appropriate education of professionals about these issuesis among the top priorities of the committee. To this purpose the committee organised a symposium, “Clinical epidemiology in practice” at the EULAR congress in Nice and intends to repeat this initiative at the next EULAR congress in Prague. Topics in Nice included “detecting small, but relevant differences”, “number needed to treat”, and “quality assurance in practice”.

      Importantly, members of the standing committee are contributing to the “Bone and Joint Decade”. For the “Bone and Joint Monitoring Project” it is extremely important to identify the burden of illness by reporting the existing data for each country. These issues were also discussed in Nice. Other topics included preparing a common project proposal of all members of the EULAR Standing Committee on Epidemiology and Health Services Research.

      The standing committee is looking forward to co-opting as members people who would like to contribute actively to the work of the committee. They may want to join one or more of our task forces, such as the groups on burden of rheumatic illness, economic consequences, or communication among members. Of course, the choice is yours! Those interested are encouraged to contact the chairman (sli{at}sint.azm.nl) or the secretary (hyazici{at}attglobal.net).

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