Background Smoking increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by 50% and is associated with a reduced response to RA drug treatments1-6.
Objectives 1. Determine the smoking status of RA patients in Fife and their knowledge about RA and smoking before and after an awareness campaign. 2. Launch a public health awareness campaign about the link between RA and smoking.
Methods 1200 seropositive RA patients in Fife were identified and were contacted informing them of the study. Telephone questionnaires were undertaken with RA patients before and after the RA and smoking cessation awareness campaign. The materials for the campaign were developed by NHS Fife, Gingernut creative, Rudder Finn, Pfizer and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. Approved materials were used for the campaign and also mailed to all RA patients in Fife.
Results Of the 306 Fife RA patients questionned before the campaign only 5% were aware of a link between RA and smoking. 20% of RA patients were current smokers and 53% were thinking about stopping. 48% of RA patients were ex-smokers and half stated that a major illness had been the motivation to quit smoking. Most had used pharmacotherapy and 63% had quit on their 1st attempt. The “RA and smoking - a joint problem” public awareness campaign was launched in September 2011 and local radio and newspapers as well as social networks and websites reported the story. Over 300,000 media impressions were created. 350 RA patients are being questionned following the campaign and preliminary analysis indicates a change in some patients attitudes including increased smoking cessation.
Conclusions This study has identified that 1 in 5 RA patients in Fife currently smokes cigarettes and that more than half of RA smokers are thinking about quitting. Patients cite “a health scare” as motivation to quit which suggests that a “Golden Moment” opportunity exists for Rheumatologists to give advice on smoking cessation especially at the time of RA diagnosis. A public health awareness campaign was launched and its impact is currently being assessed.
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Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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