The research carried out by Censis Foundation, in collaboration with SIR (Italian Society of Rheumatology) and ANMAR (National Association of Rheumatic patients), with the sponsorship of Roche S.p.A., involved more than 600 patients, diagnosed with arthritis by a rheumatologist according to ACR criteria. The patients were recruited through a representative sample of 300 general practitioners. A number of different research and survey tools were used to collect data, helping to identify several of the problems that affect Italian patients: a survey form to be filled by the GPs, in order to verify the diagnosis and the comorbidity level; a questionnaire for the self-assessment of the disease activity, Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Activity Index (RADAI), and a sociological questionnaire set up for the analysis of the main aspects of the patients' path. Among the most serious criticalities found, the difficulties and the time needed for the patients to get a clear AR diagnosis, the problems in interacting with health structures, and the differences in accessing pharmaceutical therapies (only a slight majority of patients use DMARDs drugs, a small amount takes biological drugs, while a large number of patients is treated exclusively with symptomatic drugs) stand out. The differences in patients' condition appear then to be exaggerated, regarding the chances to get an early diagnosis, the access path to specialised centres, and in receiving the most appropriate treatments. Moreover, these differences appear to be strongly dependent on both the social characteristics of the patients and the supply arrangement in their area.
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