Patients' and Rheumatologists' Perceptions on Preventive Intervention in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Axial Spondyloarthritis

Laurette van Boheemen; Janne W. Bolt; Marieke M. ter Wee; Henriëtte M. de Jong; Marleen G. van de Sande; Dirkjan van Schaardenburg


Arthritis Res Ther. 2020;22(217) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Individuals at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may benefit from lifestyle or pharmacological interventions aimed at primary prevention. The same may apply to individuals at risk of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). Our aim was to investigate and compare the willingness of individuals at risk of RA or axSpA and rheumatologists to initiate preventive intervention.

Methods: Individuals at risk of RA (arthralgia and anti-citrullinated protein antibodies and/or rheumatoid factor positivity without arthritis (RA-risk cohort; n = 100)), axSpA (first-degree relatives of HLA-B27-positive axSpA patients (SpA-risk cohort; n = 38)), and Dutch rheumatologists (n = 49) completed a survey on preventive intervention which included questions about disease perception, lifestyle intervention, and preventive medication.

Results: At-risk individuals reported willingness to change median 7 of 13 lifestyle components in the areas of smoking, diet, and exercise. In contrast, 35% of rheumatologists gave lifestyle advice to ≥ 50% of at-risk patients. The willingness to use 100% effective preventive medication without side effects was 53% (RA-risk), 55% (SpA-risk), and 74% (rheumatologists) at 30% disease risk which increased to 69% (RA-risk) and 92% (SpA-risk and rheumatologists) at 70% risk. With minor side effects, willingness was 26%, 29%, and 31% (at 30% risk) versus 40%, 66%, and 76% (at 70% risk), respectively.

Conclusions: Risk perception and willingness to start preventive intervention were largely similar between individuals at risk of RA and axSpA. Although the willingness to change lifestyle is high among at-risk individuals, most rheumatologists do not advise them to change their lifestyle. In contrast, rheumatologists are more willing than at-risk patients to start preventive medication.