Rheumatic conditions are known to be, in their majority, chronic disabling diseases with high impact on body functions, but also on daily activities and participation in society, including productivity and employment, with a negative impact on the Quality of Life.
The goals in successfully treating a rheumatic disease are related to the particularities of each pathology, but would all have in common the relief of pain, maintaining hemodynamic parameters in their normal values, keep a good functional status and raise the Quality of Life.
EULAR has developed recommendations regarding the treatments of rheumatic diseases with referees to medication and also alternative therapies and patient education for managing life with a rheumatic disease.
While in the terms of medications the guidelines and recommendations are unanimous accepted and evidence-based, the alternative treatments (such as physiotherapy, adapted sport activities, adapted diet and/or psychotherapy), and patient education may take place informally and it very much depends on the willingness of the health professional.
Although there are many definitions of patient education, the concept itself being accepted as important not only in rheumatic diseases, they all indicate that it involves an interactive process between patients and professionals and aims at enabling patients' participation in treatment and improve their coping strategies. As such, patients' active participation in disease management and treatment of rheumatic diseases is essential and patient education is recommended as an integral part of the treatment.
Some of the European health care system offers recommendations regarding patients' education, others do not offer any form of structured patient education to individuals with a rheumatic disease, this role is left to the clinical groups and individual health professionals. Since effective patient education needs to be patient-centered and tailored to individuals' educational needs, it is essential to assess the educational needs of patients before giving a specific type of education.
Also, some research centers focused their activity in developing educational programs for rheumatic patients (Eg: The Stanford Arthritis Self-Management Programme- Stanford University) or developed tools for assessing individual needs of patients (Eg: The Educational Needs Assessment Tool developed by The University of Leeds which used in clinical practice by a clinician is able to specifically target the individual needs of a patient).
Qualitative research studies in rheumatic diseases, targeting specific focus groups and using methods such as “in-depth interview” managed to give an inside perspective on patients individual needs and guide clinicians to adapt their treatment and recommendations to specific individual needs. They also opened the horizon in better understanding our patients.
Rheumatic patients needs comprise the best medication available, regular reevaluation and information about alternative therapies, support groups and lifestyle changes. Educational needs of patients with arthritis vary with personal characteristics and these also should be borne in mind. They depend on factors such as gender, educational level and disease duration.
Adapting our treatment strategies to individual patients' needs could lead to better cooperation between us and our patients', with the final aim of keeping a rheumatic disease under control and improve the Quality of Life of rheumatic patients.
Disclosure of Interest None declared
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