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Unique role of rheumatology in establishing collaborative relationships in research. Past, present and future of patient engagement
  1. Maarten de Wit1,
  2. Adewale Adebajo2
  1. 1 Department of Medical Humanities, Amsterdam Public Health (APH), Amsterdam University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2 Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Maarten de Wit, Department Medical Humanities, Amsterdam Public Health (APH), Amsterdam University Medical Centre, Amsterdam 1081 HV, The Netherlands; martinusdewit{at}


The specialty of rheumatology takes care of people with disabling and long-term musculoskeletal conditions. For these patients, good healthcare requires the establishment of a sustainable partnership with healthcare professionals. For over two decades, rheumatology has been a frontrunner in piloting and implementing new kinds of partnerships in scientific research. In this viewpoint paper, we provide evidence for the leading role of rheumatology in developing strategies for engaging patients in research agenda setting, outcome research, developing treatment recommendations, assessing grant applications, conducting patient-centred research and transferring knowledge from research into practice. Experiences and lessons learnt in rheumatology are regularly published and are currently widely adapted and implemented in other specialties and research contexts. Challenges still exist and it is expected that rheumatology, as a leading discipline in this field, may further enhance our knowledge, expertise and understanding of the conditions for relational empowerment and meaningful patient involvement.

  • coauthorship
  • patient involvement
  • Patient Research Partner
  • rheumatology

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  • Handling editor Josef S Smolen

  • Contributors Both authors were equally involved in the conception, writing and reviewing of this Viewpoint article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests MdW has been the EULAR vice president representing People with Arthritis/Rheumatism in Europe, is an Executive Committee member of OMERACT and a Patient Research Partner in several scientific initiatives among which GRAPPA is one. MdW is a volunteer and board member of Stichting Tools. AA is a UK NIHR INVOLVE associate, having previously been a UK NIHR INVOLVE member and board member. AA is also the Patient and Public Involvement strategic lead for the UK Yorkshire and Humber CLAHRC.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.