Emotional and physical limitations are significant challenges cited by people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to two recent surveys.

Known as the “GeneRAtions” surveys — one includes feedback from more than 1,000 people living with RA while the other polled more than 300 physicians specializing in the treatment of RA.

According to the surveys, people with RA felt sad or depressed because of their disease an average of 25 days in three months.

They also had difficulty with normal daily activities for 31 days in the same time period.

The surveys form the basis of a new disease awareness initiative — “GeneRAtions” — which is focused on increasing understanding of RA through the perspectives of varying “RA generations” — people who have lived with or physicians who have treated RA for different lengths of time over a 30-year span.

“It’s difficult to explain to people, even as a former Olympic athlete, why I sometimes struggle because of my RA.

“Many people don’t understand how great the mental and physical challenges can be when living with this condition,” said Joy Fawcett, Olympic gold medalist and retired member of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, who has been living with RA for more than a decade, and is a spokesperson for the GeneRAtions program.

“I’m fortunate that in the 10 years since my diagnosis, education and treatment for the disease have improved, but we need to continue this momentum.”

[[{“fid”:”142″,”attributes”:{“class”:”image-right”,”alt”:””Initiatives like GeneRAtions will bring awareness to this serious illness… [and] may give rheumatologists the opportunity to prevent the debilitating effects of RA.” — Dr. Hayes Wilson Chief of Rheumatology Piedmont Hospital Atlanta”}}]]The GeneRAtions surveys, conducted by Manhattan Research and supported by Centocor, Inc., are the first to provide new insights into the physical, emotional and social effects RA has — including the impact on relationships, work, and overall daily living.

The survey results also highlight changes in physicians’ approaches to treating RA over the past 30 years, progress that has been made in managing the disease (due to recent treatment advances), as well as patient and physician perspectives about the future of treatment.

Key findings revealed that:

  • More than 90 percent of people with RA surveyed reported that their disease interfered with their work in the last three months.
  • Physicians surveyed rated limitations on physical activities as the most restrictive consequence of RA for their patients.
  • More than half of patients surveyed agreed that the public does not understand the difference between RA, a chronic autoimmune disorder, and osteoarthritis, which results from wear and tear on the joints.
  • Two out of three patients surveyed believed that friends and family underestimate the impact of RA.
  • More than half of all respondents felt that their doctors do not fully understand the impact of RA on their patients.
  • While nearly three out of five RA patients are satisfied with their physician’s ability to effectively treat their RA with current therapies, more than 80 percent are looking forward to the future for new innovative options.

Comprehensive survey findings, as well as testimonials from people living with RA and physicians sharing their own personal experiences related to the disease, are available on the program Web site: www.RAGeneRAtions.com

Centocor surveyed 1,000 patients and 300 doctors.“The specialty of rheumatology has made tremendous strides over the last 30 years when my father, also a rheumatologist, was practicing and aspirin was the standard treatment.

“Today the standard treatment for people living with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis includes disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic therapies that inhibit specific proteins like tumor necrosis factor (TNF),” said Hayes Wilson, MD, Chief of Rheumatology, Piedmont Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia.

“Initiatives like GeneRAtions will bring awareness to this serious illness which can affect entire families; and in turn, may give rheumatologists the opportunity to prevent the debilitating effects of RA.”

“Findings from the GeneRAtions surveys provide interesting perspectives relative to both patient and physician insights,” said Seth Ginsberg, CreakyJoints President. “We are pleased to note the progress made so far in education and treatment and will continue our efforts to increase awareness of RA and improve patients’ quality of life.”