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) Interviews with approx. 30 people without a history of arthritis, about their knowledge of RA.

2) A second set of interviews with another 20-30 people (again without a history of arthritis). As part of the interview, respondents are asked to respond to several short stories. Each of these stories will include a written account of some of the symptoms of RA or another chronic disease such as diabetes.

3) A survey on awareness of RA symptoms in adults which we will distribute to around 2000 people.

4) Following the research 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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