The incidence rate and the early management of rheumatoid arthritis in Slovenia
Epidemiological data for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) differ according to ethnicity and geographical region. Moreover, despite of clear RA management guidelines, the implementation of treat-to-target (T2T) strategy often remains incomplete. Our objectives were to determine the incidence rate of RA, the clinical characteristics, and the level of adherence to the T2T guidelines in Slovenia. We analyzed prospectively the collected data of adult patients diagnosed with RA from 2014 through 2016 at the Department of Rheumatology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. The department provides rheumatology services to a well-defined region with a population of 704,000 adult residents. During the 3-year observation, we identified 341 incipient cases of RA (75% females, median (IQR) aged 64 (52.0–75.4) years), resulting in an annual incidence rate of 16.1 per 100,000 adults (95% CI 14.5–17.9). The incidence rate peaked in the 70–79-year age interval. The median time from the onset of symptoms suggestive of RA to rheumatology consultation was 12.9 (4.4–26.1) weeks, and the median time from referral to consultation was 1 (1–3) day. Within 12 weeks of symptom onset, 161 (47.2%) incipient RA patients were examined by a rheumatologist, and 123 (36.1%) were started on DMARD therapy. The estimated incidence rate was in line with the available epidemiological data. Our early interventional clinic enabled us to identify and manage a substantial portion of RA patients within the recommended time frame.
KeywordsIncidence Management Referral Rheumatoid arthritis
Compliance with ethical standards
The study was approved by the Republic of Slovenia National Medical Ethics Committee.
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