Individual variations in treatment decisions by Swedish rheumatologists regarding biological drugs for rheumatoid arthritis
2015 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, ISSN 0300-9742, E-ISSN 1502-7732, Vol. 44, no 4, 265-270 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Objective: In Sweden, reports indicate surprisingly large regional variation in prescription of biological drugs, despite a growing number of clinical studies describing their beneficial effects and guidelines by professional organizations and agencies. Our objective was to ascertain whether there is also variation between individual rheumatologists in prescribing biologics to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to evaluate reasons for treatment choices.
Methods: Ten hypothetical patient cases were constructed and presented to 26 rheumatologists in five regions in Sweden. The cases were based on actual cases and were thoroughly elaborated by a senior rheumatologist and pre-tested in a pilot study. The respondents were asked whether they would treat the patients with a biological agent (YES/NO) and to explain their decisions.
Results: The response rate was 26/105; 25%. Treatment choices varied considerably between the rheumatologists, some prescribing biologics to 9/10 patients and others to 2/10. In five of the ten hypothetical cases, approximately half of the respondents would prescribe biologics. No regions with particularly high or low prescription were identified. Both the decision to prescribe biologics, as well as not to prescribe, were mainly motivated by medical reasons. Some rheumatologists also referred to lifestyle-related factors or social function of the patient.
Conclusion: The choice of initiation of biologics varied substantially among rheumatologists presented with hypothetical patient cases, and there were also disparities between rheumatologists practising at the same clinic. Treatment choices were primarily motivated by medical reasons. This situation raises concerns about a lack of consensus in RA treatment strategies.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Informa Healthcare, 2015. Vol. 44, no 4, 265-270 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-113301DOI: 10.3109/03009742.2014.997286ISI: 000359960100002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-113301DiVA: diva2:780935