Presented by Jeff Curtis, MD, rheumatologist and Harbert-Ball Endowed Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama Birmingham and co-principal investigator of ArthritisPower

Selecting from a variety of treatment options for autoimmune conditions can be challenging for doctors and patients alike. When a specific medication is not working for a patient with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or any other autoimmune condition, treatment guidelines — evidence-based documents that guide clinicians on decisions and criteria for diagnosis, treatment and management of disease — almost always tell doctors that they have a choice between several different drugs. When faced with such a decision, both doctor and patient want to know the comparative safety and effectiveness of each drug option while keeping in mind a patient’s unique characteristics.

In this webinar, Dr. Curtis discusses this issues and research he is leading in a study called Comparative Health Outcomes in Immune-mediated diseases CollaborativE (The CHOICE Study).

Fast Facts from the Webinar

1. Effectiveness means how well and how quickly a medication or treatment works

2. Medicines that affect the immune system can take weeks to months to work

Medicines that are used to manage autoimmune conditions work on the immune system response. They do not work instantaneously like NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen) or painkillers. Immunomodulators can take anywhere from weeks to months to work and often involve adjusting the dose. Because these medications take time to begin working, it is important that patients keep track of how their symptoms may be changing when initiating and continuing on a new therapy. Tools like ArthritisPower can help patients track and monitor their medications and symptoms.

3. If you’re not treating the immune system, then you’re not treating your autoimmune disease

In most people, the immune system protects you against infections and diseases. But if you have an autoimmune condition, your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body or specific organs of your body. Treatment for autoimmune diseases involves treating or reducing an overactive immune system response and controlling inflammation. Pain is a symptom of some autoimmune conditions. It is important to treat the autoimmune disease itself with immunomodulating medications which in turn will address symptoms such as pain. Treating symptoms alone will not treat the disease.

4. There are no medications that come without some safety risk

But there is more risk in not treating your autoimmune condition effectively.

5. Only patients can tell clinicians and researchers how well a treatment is working

By regularly reporting your symptoms and updating your medication list in ArthritisPower, you as a patient can provide essential information for research to compare the effectiveness of medications for different conditions. Ultimately, this information may help someone else who is just starting their journey with an autoimmune condition. In addition to your ongoing participation, there are several ArthritisPower study opportunities coming soon that will help us learn more about the relative effectiveness of different treatments.

6. Use trusted sources to do your own research about medications

RAMedGuide.com is a credible and well-researched source of information for the various medicines used to manage RA. It is a decision aid tool designed to help people with RA learn more about biologics and other newer medications. It was developed with support from the American College of Rheumatology Research Foundation. Research for the online tool was supported by National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.


Get Involved in Arthritis Research

If you are diagnosed with arthritis or another musculoskeletal condition, we encourage you to participate in future studies by joining CreakyJoints’ patient research registry, ArthritisPower. ArthritisPower is the first-ever patient-led, patient-centered research registry for joint, bone, and inflammatory skin conditions. Learn more and sign up here.


This webinar was produced with the Autoimmune and Systemic Inflammatory Syndromes Collaborative Research Group (ASIS CRG). As part of the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, this research group collaborates with stakeholders including patients, caregivers, advocacy groups, providers, and funders early on to move research forward more quickly and more efficiently. Learn more about our work here.


CreakyJoints website material and content are intended for evidence based informational and educational purposes only. Any material or content on our website is not intended to substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a physician or qualified health provider.