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The purpose of the DELAY research study

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes joint destruction, disability and reduced life expectancy. Prompt treatment greatly improves long term outcomes, therefore, there is an urgent need for strategies to reduce delays in starting treatment. Our research has shown that there are large delays in starting treatment for RA in the UK. In many cases this delay was caused by people not seeking help for the early symptoms of RA promptly.

In this study we plan to assess reasons for delay in GP consultation in over 400 patients with RA. This will allow us to develop evidence based strategies to reduce this delay. The development of a public education strategy to address this patient delay requires an understanding of the reasons underlying it and a recognition of the fact that these may be different in different groups (e.g. the elderly and ethnic minority groups).

The DELAY study overview

The project is divided into three studies. The first study will develop and validate a questionnaire assessing reasons for delay. Additional themes will be identified and developed from a systematic literature review (on reasons for delay in GP consultation) and focus groups.

The second study will assess the reliability of the questionnaire over time, by administering it to people with RA at two time points.

The third study will survey a large cross-sectional sample of people with inflammatory arthritis to assess the reasons for delay in GP consultation in relation to socioeconomic and demographic variables.

Outcomes and future work

The goals of this research programme are to:

[1] Develop targeted informational material to catalyse raising public awareness of RA and the need to consult early.

[2] Identify longer-term patient experience based strategies for a future public health campaign and plan longer-term strategies for the implementation and assessment of such a campaign.


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