Some health problems are considered by many individuals as a 'normal' part of ageing. Our aim was to investigate whether patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) consider different types and levels of health losses as acceptable beyond a certain age. A multicenter cross-sectional survey was performed involving RA patients at the initiation of the first biological therapy. The EQ-5D and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (HAQDI) questionnaires were used to describe domain-specific health states. Patients were asked to indicate for each domain from what age and onward (between ages 30 and 80 years in 10 year intervals) they considered moderate and severe problems acceptable or alternatively never acceptable. Seventy-seven RA patients (females 86%, mean age 50.3, disease duration 9.1 years) completed the questionnaire. Disease activity (DAS28), EQ-5D and HAQ-DI scores were mean 6.00 (SD 0.85), 0.35 (SD 0.36), 1.48 (SD 0.66), respectively. The majority of the patients considered age 70 and beyond as acceptable to have some health problems (EQ-5D: self-care 42%, pain/discomfort 34%, mobility 33%, usual activities 33%, anxiety/depression 27%), whilst at ages 30 and 40 as not acceptable. Severe health problems were mostly (57-69%) considered never acceptable, except the 'Usual activities' domain (acceptable from age 80 by 50.6%). The great majority of the patients (77-96%) were younger than what they indicated as the acceptability age limit. Similar results were found for the HAQ-DI. This small experimental study suggests that RA patients consider some health problems acceptable. This acceptability is age related and varies by health areas. Further larger studies are needed to explore explanatory variables and to compare with other diseases. Owing to the impact acceptability might have on RA patients' self-evaluation of current health state and decision-making, the topic deserves methodological improvement and further investigation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
- Health Policy