Background The introduction of biological therapies has significantly improved the treatment of chronic rheumatic diseases. In our routine clinical management of patients, varying ideas and fears are expressed by patients concerning the risks associated to the use of these agents.
Objectives We aimed to evaluate what patients think about these treatments and what are they afraid of.
Methods Sixty-two patients (45 rheumatoid arthritis and 17 ankylosing spondylitis), in whom a biologic agent has been recently indicated, were consecutively included at El Ayachi Hospital-University Hospital of Rabat-sale, Morocco. For all patients, we specified the indication for which the biologic agent was prescribed. All patients have given informed consent to answer a self-questionnaire: Have you been well informed about the treatment by your rheumatologist? Have you done research on the internet or consulted the media? Have you requested any information from your physician, family, friends or other patients who have received biologics? What do you expect from this treatment in terms of efficacy? What side effects you fear most? All patients were assessed at baseline before the introduction of the biologic agent.
Results In our data, 41 patients (66.1%) received CD20 antagonist, 17 (27.4%) received TNF blockers and 4 (6.4%) received IL6 antagonist. Among our patients, 33 (53.2%) have already heard about biologic agents from the media or from their physician; 39 (62.9%) were satisfied with the information given by their rheumatologist; 35 (56.4%) have been given adequate time to discuss and ask their rheumatologist; 20 (32.2%) have done research on the internet after the biologic agent was indicated; 5 patients (8.1%) have consulted another physician before receiving treatment; 2 patients (3.2%) have asked an allied health professional and 4 patients (6.4%) have asked other patients already treated with biologic agents. Forty-eight patients (77.4%) were convicted with the efficacy of the treatment and expected total remission. Six patients expected the improvement of their pain and 2 patients didn’t know what they did really expect. Six patients (all women) (9.6%) were afraid of becoming blind; and 9 patients (14.5%) were afraid of having a heart attack; 6 patients (9.6%) were afraid of death; 2 patients (3.2%) were afraid of paralysis and 1 male patient was afraid of becoming sterile.
Conclusions It seems that there are many beliefs and fears about biologic agents in our patients. Only 2/3 of our patients were well informed by their physician and approximately 1/3 of patients looked for information from other sources (Internet, media and entourage). An objective and targeted information about biologics should be given to patients. Besides the role of rheumatologist, the role of media and society should be highlighted in patients’ information in order to clarify adverse events to alleviate fear of the unknown.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared