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A Shared-Care Model for Rheumatoid Arthritis Leveraging an “On Demand” Follow-Up Strategy

Arthritis Research Canada/Arthrite-recherche Canada’s scientific team is tackling challenges faced by over 6 million Canadians living with arthritis – challenges that can interfere with everyday life. Through 100+ research projects, they are finding ways to prevent arthritis, diagnose people earlier, manage symptoms, provide new and better treatments and improve overall quality of life. We are excited to share #6 on Arthritis Research Canada's list of 10 Research Projects to Watch in 2023 this week.

#6 A Shared-Care Model for Rheumatoid Arthritis Leveraging an “On Demand” Follow-Up Strategy

Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong disease that needs ongoing monitoring. Rheumatologist follow-up appointments are scheduled at fixed intervals for convenience, leaving little time for last minute appointments at times of urgent need, this is made even more difficult by the shortage of rheumatologists.

By involving people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), rheumatology health  care providers, and family doctors to create and test a ‘patient-initiated’ model of delivering rheumatology care, this study aims to create and test a ‘patient-initiated’ model of delivering care. In this model, patients will be followed by their family doctor when their disease is stable, and arrange rheumatology follow-up visits when needed, rather than at fixed pre-determined intervals.

First, there will be a review of patients’ charts to determine which patients and how many rheumatology follow-up visits could have been done with a family doctor. Interviews will be conducted with patients and physicians to understand barriers to providing this kind of care and what would make it successful. The study will also create resources to support patients and family doctors when testing the new model.

Then, the model will be tested by 50 to 75 adults with RA. Patients with stable disease will see their family doctor for their RA for one year. Disease activity will be captured through questionnaires and state of the art joint imaging will assess whether adverse impact on joints occurs. Rheumatology care will be available rapidly as needed if there is an urgent concern related to RA or treatment, such as a flare or side-effect of medication.

At the end of the study, participants will share their experiences in an interview with the study team.

Click here to learn more about this research study.