Date of Award

5-13-2016

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Rothenberg

Second Advisor

Dr. Ike Okosun

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: RA is defined as a systemic inflammatory disease that manifests itself in multiple joints in the body (CDC). This inflammation affects the lining of the joints primarily, but can also affect other organs. The chronic inflammation leads to erosion on the cartilage and can cause joint deformity. The cause of RA is unknown, however many factors such as genetics, environment, and lifestyle are being evaluated. Symptoms can include joint pain, rash, fatigue, stiffness in joints, fever, and swollen joints. There is no cure, but there are a variety of medicines used to reduce inflammation. There are a number of comorbidities associated with the disease complex. The incidence of comorbidities is increasing, however, the data from current studies are not being used towards patient information. The availability of information of patients both online and through the doctor is severely lacking.

AIM: The purpose of this capstone is to identify the types of comorbidities associated with arthritis, focusing specifically on rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I identify and review the non scientific literature that patients are likely to seek after a diagnosis to determine the span of information available to the general public as well as provide statistics and articles for comorbidities in RA. This information will inform a set of recommendations for future research and improvement of patient care.

METHODS: This capstone focuses on statistics of comorbidities present in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and online resources available to patients. Data were collected via Pubmed articles using the Georgia State University Library database list. Articles were analyzed for relevance and data was complied into a table for easy reference. The patient resource websites were found using a Google search and evaluated for usefulness and the level of information provided.

RESULTS: My research indicated that the prevalence of comorbidities is high among patients diagnosed with arthritis. Patients are most frequently diagnosed with cardiac events, cancer, and respiratory diseases such as COPD. Nearly every researcher assessed that there was not enough research done and that results were conflicting. Patient online resources are lacking and the availability of information is subpar.

DISCUSSION: There are articles that provided statistics on arthritis patients with comorbidities in almost every article within the discussion section, but it was stated that there was not enough data to make definitive statements and conclusions. The problem is that studies and data are being produced, but there is no movement forward to produce a treatment plan and thus the information available for patients should be reevaluated.

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