What is RAPID?

The Rheumatoid Arthritis the Public InformeD (RAPID) project is collaborative research between researchers from the University of Birmingham (Prof Karim Raza, Dr Rebecca Stack, Sister Kanta Kumar & Dr Gwenda Simons) and the University of Keele (Prof Christian Mallen) and will explore the perceptions of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) amongst members of the general public, their knowledge of RA and their reaction to the presentation of RA symptoms.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition which has a profound impact on the life of those suffering with it. It causes inflammation of the joints which can lead on to joint destruction. Rheumatoid Arthritis can occur in people of all ages, although onset is most frequent between the ages of 40 and 60. According to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) it currently affects approximately 580,000 people in England alone (http://www.nras.org.uk/).

Treatments have improved greatly over the years and now help many of those affected. It has been shown that if people with RA are diagnosed early and treated with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), they are likely to have a better outcome in the future (e.g. less joint destruction and less disability). Unfortunately, people often wait for a long time before seeking help for (initial) RA symptoms, missing this vital treatment window. If the diagnosis and treatment of RA are delayed, irreversible joint destruction and disability can occur.

Aims of the RAPID project...

Through the RAPID project we will find out why people do not seek help for their symptoms when they begin. We are investigating perceptions and knowledge of RA in the general public (people without RA) and are looking at how they would respond to experiencing the first symptoms of RA. We aim to explore:

1) what members of the public know about RA

2) how they perceive this condition and

3) the triggers they may use to seek help from health care professionals

What the project entails...

1) We have conducted qualitative interviews with 38 members of the general public without any form of inflammatory arthritis about their perceptions of RA symptoms and decisions to seek help were they to experience such symptoms. Some findings are reported in the following article: 

A qualitative investigation of the barriers to help-seeking among members of the public presented with symptoms of new-onset rheumatoid arthritis.

Simons G1, Mallen CD2, Kumar K2, Stack RJ2, Raza K2. J Rheumatol. 2015 Apr;42(4):585-92. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.140913. Epub 2015 Feb 1.

See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25641894 for a summary and a link to download the full article 

2) A second set of interviews with another 31members of the general public (again without a history of arthritis) was conducted. As part of the interview, interviewees were asked to respond to several short stories describing symptoms of RA and other long-term illnesses such as angina.

3) A survey on awareness of RA symptoms in adults was completed by 1088 people (291 males, 788 females). Data analysis is currently ongoing 

4) Following the full analysis of the research data which is currently ongoing we will make a start with developing materials for the general public to increase awareness of RA. 

This research is supported by The Dunhill Medical Trust [grant number R226/1111]

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