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SP0007 70 years past and a view of the future: looking back and looking forward
  1. HW Bijlsma
  1. Department of Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology, University Medical Center, Utrecht, Netherlands


In 1913 the Dutch general practitioner Jan van Breemen, moved by the needs of the many disabled people in his practice, started an international cooperation to fight rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. His initiative led to the formation of the International League Against Rheumatism (ILAR), and subsequently to the formation of regional Leagues, such as EULAR in 1947.

EULAR has in the following 70 years developed into a unique organisation of rheumatologists, scientists, health professionals and patients, who together are aiming to reduce the burden of rheumatic diseases on the individual and society and to improve the treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal diseases. To this end, EULAR fosters excellence in education and research in the field of rheumatology. It promotes translation of research advances into daily care and fights for the recognition of the needs of people with RMDs by the governing bodies in Europe (EULAR mission statement 2005).

The first European Rheumatology Congress was held in September 1947 in Copenhagen and was attended by 200 delegates from 16 countries. At the EULAR 2017 Madrid Congress over 14.000 attendees are expected, coming from more than 120 countries.

EULAR is unique in the sense that three pillars work closely together in one organization: rheumatologists, health professionals and patients. Today, I want to focus a bit on the health professionals pillar, since this pillar has its formal 30 years jubilee in 2017 as well. At the American celebration of 50 years of non-physician health professionals in Rheumatology (2015), Brady described three science-driven practice paradigm shifts that play an important role in managing patients with RMDs: 1.The widely used “Self-management programs”, that were developed from information giving and 'patient education'. 2.The positive and intensive use of “Exercise and physical activity”, that were developed from previous acclaimed bed rest and assisted range of motion exercises. 3. The OMERACT initiated definitions and applications of Patient-reported outcome measures, instead of only biomedical assessment of disease activity.

In addition, she recognized two “evolutions in practice”: 1.Understanding Psychological Factors, from accepting “the arthritic personality” to actively addressing depression, anxiety, coping skills, sense of control and confidence. 2. The development of the important role that nurses and other health professionals can play in the treatment of patients with RMDs.

The EULAR health professionals can be very proud of the important part that Europeans have played in these worldwide developments.

My priorities as president-elect of EULAR for the coming two years are:

  • Further development of the School of Rheumatology

  • Large public awareness campaign: Don't delay, Connect today

  • New EULAR Strategy 2018–2023

I hope and expect that the pillar of health professionals will take an active role in the cooperation that is necessary to reach our common goals.

Disclosure of Interest None declared

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