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Men and women with rheumatoid arthritis 'may need different types of support'

Published on 14 June 2018
Men and women with rheumatoid arthritis 'may need different types of support'

An Arthritis Research UK-funded study has found that men and women living with rheumatoid arthritis may respond to different types of support to help them manage the everyday impact the condition has on their lives.

The research underlines the fact that many men are struggling with rheumatoid arthritis, and suggests that some men may respond better to different support.

A significant proportion of men struggle to manage their condition
Researchers at the University of the West of England surveyed 295 English men about their experiences of living with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as 232 women.

The study, led by Dr Caroline Flurey, found that 22 per cent of the men who responded to the questionnaire appeared to have accepted and adapted to their condition, whereas 43 per cent of the men surveyed appeared to be struggling to cope.

Those who said they were struggling generally reported more severe symptoms, less effective strategies for managing their condition, and poorer mental health and wellbeing. This group of men were not served well by current forms of self-management, as they did not suit their personal coping strategies.

Men and women prefer different support
The survey found that, in general, men preferred support measures such as question-and-answer sessions with a consultant or specialist nurse, access to online information websites, talks by researchers, or symptom management sessions.

Women, meanwhile, were more interested in support sessions than men, and more than half of the women surveyed said they were interested in nearly every option provided.

By understanding preferences, the study could help continue to shape more personalised treatment and support, tailored to the needs of each person.

Arthritis Research UK's view
Dr Devi Sagar, research liaison manager at Arthritis Research UK, said: "Rheumatoid arthritis currently affects more than 400,000 men and women of all ages in the UK, and can have a devastating impact on a person's everyday life. Daily activities that we often take for granted - like getting out of bed, climbing the stairs or even preparing a meal - can be incredibly difficult.

"Studies like this show us how arthritis can affect people differently, and that it is important to understand trends among different groups so that patients are offered a personalised programme of support - where they feel better equipped to cope with the physical and mental challenges of living with arthritis."

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