The importance of patients’ involvement in the management of their Rheumatoid Arthritis

Listening to the patient voice is central to helping us achieve our ambition of Pioneering for Patients at Galapagos. I’d like to talk you through the insights we gained from a Survey conducted by Adelphi on the involvement people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) believe they have in the management of their condition and how this is also perceived by their physicians

Written by Katrien Van Beneden

In our approach to combatting Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)– we are committed to listening to patients to understand their daily challenges and unmet needs to inspire our science. We use this insight to inform our work and focus on the health outcomes that truly matter to people living with inflammatory diseases. 

Some of these patient perspectives have been brought to life through our work with Adelphi, a global healthcare market research company, via a large survey seeking insights into patient and physician attitudes to treatment target goal setting in RA across Europe. A treatment target approach in RA involves agreeing between a doctor and their patient, a meaningful goal they want to achieving and setting up a treatment plan to help to meet this goal.  The plan is assessed at regular agreed timepoints, with a commitment to changing the treatment if the target is not met.

The survey we carried out with Adelphi involved  over 3000 patients and nearly 300 rheumatologists from across Europe. The rheumatologists completed an online survey and then answered questions about the next ten patients they consulted with immediately after survey completion.  These same patients were then invited to voluntarily complete a self-report questionnaire, which collected data on attitudes towards treatment target goals and the management of their care. 

The results revealed a gap between rheumatologists and their patients on how treatment goals are set. Amongst the Rheumatologists it was stated that 66% of patients were on a treatment target plan, however, amongst patients 29% perceived that no treatment goal had been set by their doctor or themselves when discussing treatment options. In addition, 34% of patients who did have treatment goals said they were set by their doctor alone. This suggests that more needs to be done in the areas of education and communication between doctors and their patients, to achieve the positive outcomes everyone wants, when effectively managing this disease.

At Galapagos we believe it is important to work with both people living with RA and healthcare professionals to understand, define and work towards achievable targets, beyond clinical definitions of disease remission. For many people, a diagnosis of RA signals the start of a long treatment journey and we are continuously working to understand the different dimensions of treatment needs that are most important to people living with RA. 

This research suggests that further work is needed to identify and understand goals important to people living with RA. As well the need for support to ensure these goals are clearly communicated to and understood by the healthcare teams dedicated to improving outcomes for people with RA. We remain committed to working in partnership with the RA community, to deliver innovation with a focus on the health outcomes that truly matter to the people living with RA. 


About Katrien Van Beneden

Katrien Van Beneden is a Global Medical Director for inflammation at Galapagos. She has a PhD in immunology and has almost 20 years of experience in the field of rheumatology, starting in the lab as a Post Doctorate fellow in dept of Rheumatology at University hospital Ghent, followed by doing clinical research as well as in providing medical affairs support in the therapy area of rheumatology, for the industry at local and international level.