Inflammatory arthritis is common and associated with significant articular and extra-articular complications. Outcomes are improved if treatment is started early and, certainly for rheumatoid arthritis, the first three months after the onset of symptoms represent a therapeutic window of opportunity. Unfortunately many patients miss this window – often as a result of the patient delaying in seeking medical help.
Reasons for patient delays in seeking medical help in the context of RA include:
 A lack of knowledge of: (i) RA and its symptoms; (ii) their individual risk of RA; (iii) available treatments for RA.
 The normalization of symptoms and the initial use of self-management approaches.
 Not wanting to “waste” a health care professional's time.
 A poor relationship with their family doctor.
Drivers for help seeking typically include the worsening of symptoms and the development of significant functional impairment. This is a particular concern in the context of inflammatory rheumatic diseases which often begin insidiously and for which delaying help seeking until significant functional impairment is apparent can have deleterious long term consequence.
An understanding of these issues will help inform the development of public health campaigns to encourage prompt help seeking at the onset of symptoms of inflammatory arthritis.
Disclosure of Interest None declared