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Openness to and preference for attributes of biologic therapy prior to initiation among patients with rheumatoid arthritis: patient and rheumatologist perspectives and implications for decision making



Despite American College of Rheumatology recommendations, appropriate and timely initiation of biologic therapies does not always occur. This study examined openness to and preference for attributes of biologic therapies among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), differences in patients' and rheumatologists' perceptions, and discussions around biologic therapy initiation.

Patients and methods

A self-administered online survey was completed by 243 adult patients with RA in the US who were taking disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and had never taken, but had discussed biologic therapy with a rheumatologist. Patients were recruited from a consumer panel (n=142) and patient advocacy organization (n=101). A separate survey was completed by 103 rheumatologists who treated at least 25 patients with RA per month with biologic therapy. Descriptive and bivariate analyses were conducted separately for patients and rheumatologists. Attributes of biologic therapy included route of administration (intravenous infusion or subcutaneous injection), frequency of injections/infusions, and duration of infusion.


Over half of patients (53.1%) were open to both intravenous infusion and subcutaneous injection, whereas rheumatologists reported 40.7% of patients would be open to both. Only 26.3% of patients strongly preferred subcutaneous injection, whereas rheumatologists reported 35.2%. Discrepancies were even more pronounced among specific patient types (eg, older vs younger patients and Medicare recipients). Among patients, 23% reported initiating discussion about biologics and 54% reported their rheumatologist initiated the discussion. A majority of rheumatologists reported discussing in detail several key aspects of biologics, whereas a minority of patients reported the same.


Preferences differed among patients with RA from rheumatologists' perceptions of these preferences for biologic therapy, including greater openness to intravenous infusion among patients than assumed by rheumatologists and relative lack of discussion about key aspects of biologic therapy perceived by patients. There is a need for more open communication about treatment options, which may encourage more appropriate, timely transition to biologic therapy.

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