Arthritis & Rheumatism, Volume 62,
November 2010 Abstract Supplement

Abstracts of the American College of
Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals
Annual Scientific Meeting
Atlanta, Georgia November 6-11, 2010.

The Impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) on Women: Focus on Pain, Productivity and Relationships.

Strand2,  Vibeke, Emery1,  Paul, Fleming4,  Scott, Griffin3,  Catherine

Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds, United Kingdom
Division of Immunology and Rheumatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA
Echo Research, London, UK
UCB, Slough, UK


It is widely recognized that daily life-burdens associated with RA, including functional impairment, pain, inability to participate in desired family, social and leisure activities and reduced productivity at work and within the home, have a profound impact on the overall health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of RA patients. However, this impact on daily life in women, as well as on relationships and overall well-being, has not been well characterized.


To explore the impact of RA on women's daily lives and relationships.


Women with RA from 7 countries (USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain) were recruited by an online research panel to complete an internet survey regarding how their lifestyle has been affected by RA. Eligible women were aged 25–65 years with a formal diagnosis >=6 months; screening criteria were established to exclude those without a diagnosis of RA and/or who did not satisfy the age criteria. Respondents were queried regarding the physical, emotional and social impacts of RA on their lives. Mean responses to each question were computed for the overall patient population.


27,459 women were recruited via an online research panel. Of these, a total of 1958 women with RA (USA, UK, Germany, and Spain 300 patients each; Canada, 155; France, 301; Italy, 302) completed the survey between July 30 and August 31, 2009. No major regional differences were observed in any outcome measured. Mean age was 46 years, 75% had RA diagnosed >1 year and 69% self-reported moderate to severe disease. Among the 75% of respondents who were currently taking pain-relief medications, a high proportion still reported experiencing daily pain (72%). The majority of respondents felt they had to conceal pain (68%). Furthermore, 67% of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that they constantly look for new ideas to address pain, and nearly 9 out of 10 mentioned pain in discussions with their physicians. Another key finding of the survey was the negative impact of RA on productivity at work. Of those employed (n=1108), 71% reported they were less productive at work because of RA, 23% had to stop work altogether, and 17% had to switch to part-time employment. Respondents reported that the emotional impact of RA is high: many have feelings of detachment and isolation from their friends and family due to their condition; 26% felt isolated, and 32% that RA had affected their closest relationships for the worse. RA was also reported to negatively affect the most intimate aspects of patients' lifestyles, with 4 of 10 single women agreeing that RA makes it more challenging to find a partner, and 22% divorced/separated respondents indicating that RA had at least some role in their decision to separate.


Pain is a paramount issue for women with RA; the majority experience pain despite taking pain relief medication. In all countries evaluated, respondents indicated that RA had a negative impact on employment and caused them to feel isolated, negatively affecting intimate relationships. Optimization of treatment strategies to reduce pain, increase productivity, and manage the social aspects of the disease is thus needed.

To cite this abstract, please use the following information:
Strand, Vibeke, Emery, Paul, Fleming, Scott, Griffin, Catherine; The Impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) on Women: Focus on Pain, Productivity and Relationships. [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 2010;62 Suppl 10 :1063
DOI: 10.1002/art.28830

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