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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Treatment preferences in juvenile idiopathic arthritis – a comparative analysis in two health care systems

Boris Hugle12, Johannes-Peter Haas2 and Susanne M Benseler13*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Rheumatology, Department of Paediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X8, Canada

2 German Center for Pediatric Rheumatology, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

3 Child Health Evaluative Sciences, Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

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Pediatric Rheumatology 2013, 11:3  doi:10.1186/1546-0096-11-3

Published: 15 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Variations in the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) may impact on quality of care. The objective of this study was to identify and compare treatment approaches for JIA in two health care systems.

Methods

Paediatric rheumatologists in Canada (n=58) and Germany/Austria (n=172) were surveyed by email, using case-based vignettes for oligoarticular and seronegative polyarticular JIA. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics; responses were compared using univariate analysis.

Results

Total response rate was 63%. Physicians were comparable by age, level of training and duration of practice, with more Canadians based in academic centres. For initial treatment of oligoarthritis, only approximately half of physicians in both groups used intra-articular steroids. German physicians were more likely to institute DMARD treatment in oligoarthritis refractory to NSAID (p<0.001). Canadian physicians were more likely to switch to a different DMARD rather than a biologic agent in polyarthritis refractory to initial DMARD therapy. For oligoarthritis and polyarthritis, respectively, 86% and 90% of German physicians preferred regular physiotherapy over home exercise, compared to 14% and 15% in Canada. Except for a Canadian preference for naproxen in oligoarthritis, no significant differences were found for NSAID, intra-articular steroid preparations, initial DMARD and initial biologic treatment.

Conclusions

Treatment of oligo- and polyarticular JIA with DMARD is mostly uniform, with availability and funding obviously influencing physician choice. Usage of intra-articular steroids is variable within physician groups. Physiotherapy has a fundamentally different role in the two health care systems.

Keywords:
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis; Treatment preferences; Survey; Austria; Canada; Germany; Physiotherapy; Funding