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Doctors and patients judge rheumatoid arthritis by different criteria

Category: Autoimmune Diseases

A lab test can easily determine whether an individual has rheumatoid arthritis. However, judging the progress of the disease may be a different matter altogether because doctors and patients may have different standards, as evidenced by new research from the Medical University of Vienna.

This conclusion is based on a study of 646 subjects who had rheumatoid arthritis. Results showed that on the patient side, 75 percent of one's perception of his or her disease can be explained by the experience of pain. However, when it came to physicians, the number of swollen joints in a patient accounted for 60 percent of their perception.

Furthermore, doctors where more likely than patients to take into consideration the future disease course when making treatment decisions. The latter group usually only thinks about their present day experiences.

The researchers hope their study will promote better communication between doctors and patients.

"The key concept here is 'shared decision-making'. The objective must be to create greater proximity between the doctor and the patient," said study co-author Daniel Aletaha.

A lab test to measure levels of rheumatoid arthritis factor is usually the first step to finding the best treatment.

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