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Healthcare professionals’ perceptions on barriers and facilitators to DMARD use in rheumatoid arthritis.

Voshaar, M.J.H., Bemt, B.J.F. van den, Laar, M.A.F.j. van de, Dulmen, A.M. van, Vriezekolk, J.E. Healthcare professionals’ perceptions on barriers and facilitators to DMARD use in rheumatoid arthritis. BMC Health Services Research: 2022, 22(1), Art. nr. 62
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Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are the cornerstone of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment. However, the full benefits of DMARDs are often not realized because many patients are sub-optimally adherent to their medication. In order to optimize adherence, it is essential that healthcare professionals (HCPs) understand patients' barriers and facilitators for medication use. Insight in these barriers and facilitators may foster the dialogue about adequate medication use between HCPs and patients. What HCPs perceive as barriers and facilitators has, so far, scarcely been investigated. This study aimed to identify the perceptions of HCPs on patients' barriers and facilitators that might influence their adherence.

This qualitative study was performed using semi structured in-depth interviews with HCPs. An interview guide was used, based on an adjusted version of the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF). Thematic analysis was conducted to identify factors that influence barriers and facilitators to DMARD use according to HCPs.

Fifteen HCPs (5 rheumatologists, 5 nurses and 5 pharmacists) were interviewed. They mentioned a variety of factors that, according to their perceptions, influence DMARD adherence in patients with RA. Besides therapy-related factors, such as (onset of) medication effectiveness and side-effects, most variation was found within patient-related factors and reflected patients' beliefs, ways of coping, and (self-management) skills toward medication and their condition. In addition, factors related to the condition (e.g., level of disease activity), healthcare team and system (e.g., trust in HCP), and social and economic context (e.g. support, work shifts) were reported.

This study provided insights in HCPs' perceptions of the barriers and facilitators to DMARD use patients with RA. Most factors that were mentioned were patient-related and potentially modifiable. When physicians understand patients' perceptions on medication use, adherence to DMARDs can probably be optimized in patients with RA leading to more effectiveness of treatment outcomes.