Background The introduction and rapid escalation in the use of biologicals has required a steep learning curve for rheumatology specialist nurses, who are at the forefront of patient assessment and long-term management.
Once a rheumatologist considers a patient potentially eligible for treatment, the patient is usually referred to a specialist nurse for screening and education. After the treatment is started, continued education of patients, support and assessment are required, which is main function of rheumatology nursing. While self-administration of subcutaneous biological treatments can promote independence, education by rheumatology nurse is very important.
Methods The study group comprised of 53 patients (21 male, 32 female) aged 33 to 75 years, (mean 51 years). 39.6% of patients had rheumatoid arthritis, 24.5% had psoriatic arthritis and 35.9% spondyloarthritis. The research is based on quantitative methodology. Inquiry was used as the research method. The study involved 53 patients treated in an outpatient clinic of Department of Rheumatology, University Medical Centre Maribor, Slovenia. All patients took a part in educational program before starting the treatment with biologicals. For statistical analysis a Chi-square test and correlation were used.
Results We found statistically significant positive correlation between the patients' formal education level and awareness of self-administration (r =0.301*, p=0.028) and between the patients' formal education level and knowledge of the serious adverse events that would require an immediate attention of the rheumatologist (r =0.370**, p=0.006). The analysis did not show any statistically significant correlations between gender, age or level of patients' formal education and awareness of patients' transport of medicine. We did not find any statistically significant correlations with patients' awareness to stop the biologicals temporary or permanently due to adverse event or lack of efficacy.
Conclusions We conducted a research to find out the patients' knowledge about self-treatment with biologicals. We conclude that pretreatment patients' education program is very important and that there is no impact of sex or age on knowledge about the treatment with biologicals but patients' formal education level is important in recognizing serious adverse events and in awareness of proper self-administration. More patients are required for definite results.
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Disclosure of Interest None declared