Rheumatoid Arthritis

Messages to health care professionals

People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) had important messages that they wanted to convey to doctors, nurses, and other health workers:

  • Don't neglect the special needs of young people with RA
  • Be aware of 'the person behind the patient' and take a holistic approach to disease management
  • Remember that people are all different
  • Don't treat patients as numbers
  • Don't describe patients as 'rheumatoids'
  • Give patients plenty of information, explaining medications and procedures about to be performed (see 'Finding information about RA')
  • Don't use jargon that patients don't understand
  • Listen to your patients and involve them in decisions at every stage
  • Understand that continuity of care is very important to patients with RA
  • Talk to your patients about sex after being diagnosed with RA. This is an important and much neglected subject and patients need your advice and support.
  • Remember that patients may forget what they have been told. It is useful to have the phone number of a nurse to call
  • Tender loving care is important
  • Don't be too rough when examining patients
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  • Don't rush the consultation - allow enough time for each patient
  • Tell patients about the social support and financial benefits that are available
  • Be truthful and tell patients that there isn't a cure for RA though much can be done to help to control the condition and make it more manageable
  • Try not to frighten them with worst case scenarios
  • If a clinic is running late give patients information and apologise for delays
  • Increase public awareness of RA and keep people informed through the media on research and developments in treatment
  • Involve patients in NHS decisions on how services are provided

Last reviewed August 2016.

Last updated March 2012.

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