Patient survey highlights challenges for the 1 in 4 living with rheumatic disease

September 13, 2019

ATLANTA - Americans living with rheumatic disease face significant healthcare challenges, according to a national patient survey released this week by the American College of Rheumatology and its Simple Tasks™ public awareness campaign.

More than 1,500 U.S. adults living with rheumatic disease responded to the survey, which asked a range of questions related to healthcare access, affordability and lifestyle. The results come as patients, providers and policymakers throughout the U.S. recognize Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (RDAM).

Key survey findings include: "These findings make clear that Americans living with rheumatic disease - regardless of age, gender, or income level - struggle to find affordable care," said Paula Marchetta, MD, MBA, president of the ACR. "To address these challenges, it is crucial for patients, clinicians, and policymakers to work together to improve access to rheumatology care so that patients can live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives."

Rheumatology patients recently joined the ACR on Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to support legislation that would improve patient access by expanding the rheumatology workforce and placing reasonable limits on the use of step therapy.

Last year, the ACR examined access, affordability, and lifestyle challenges in the 2018 Rheumatic Disease Report Card, which graded each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia on the factors associated with an individual's ability to live well with a rheumatic disease. The 2019 survey provides additional context to these challenges by asking patients directly how their disease impacts daily life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one in four Americans - 54 million U.S. adults - have been diagnosed with a rheumatic disease, an umbrella term that includes conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, osteoarthritis, Sjögren's syndrome, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and hundreds of lesser known diseases.

Hundreds of thousands of children also live with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. The CDC estimates that as many as 300,000 children in the U.S. have some type of juvenile arthritis. Rheumatic diseases are the nation's leading cause of disability and generate $140 billion in annual health costs. Although there is no cure for rheumatic disease, early intervention and diagnosis by a rheumatologist can help patients manage symptoms and lifestyle limitations to live healthier and more active lives.
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The Rheumatic Disease Patient Survey was conducted by the American College of Rheumatology using the online polling tool SurveyMonkey Audience. The survey was conducted June 28-29, 2019, among a nationally representative sample of 1,517 adults ages 18 and older living in the United States.

To learn more about the survey and view an executive summary of the results, visit http://simpletasks.org/Survey.

About the American College of Rheumatology

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is the nation's leading medical association for the rheumatology community and represents more than 7,700 U.S. rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. As an ethically driven, professional membership organization, the ACR is committed to improving healthcare for Americans living with rheumatic diseases and advocates for policies and reforms that will ensure safe, effective, affordable and accessible rheumatology care.

About Simple Tasks

The American College of Rheumatology's (ACR) Simple Tasks campaign aims to raise awareness about rheumatic diseases and their impact, highlight the healthcare policy issues that affect patients' ability to access high-quality care, and provide education and resources to rheumatology patients to help them live well with rheumatic disease. For more information, visit SimpleTasks.org.

American College of Rheumatology

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