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Majority of Ontarians suffering from rheumatoid arthritis not receiving needed speciality care
Date:7/6/2010

TORONTO, Ont., July 6, 2010 Nearly 60 per cent of Ontarians with rheumatoid arthritis an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints were not seen by a specialist within a one year period to treat the debilitating disease, according to a new study. Even more concerning is that women of child-bearing age are less likely to see a specialist than women 45 or older, say researchers from St. Michael's Hospital, the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences (ICES), and Women's College Hospital.

"People think the aches and pains associated with arthritis are a normal part of aging, leading to delays in seeking care," says Dr. Gillian Hawker, senior scientist at Women's College Research Institute and adjunct scientist at ICES. "But we know early diagnosis and treatment, especially within the first three to six months, is critical to preventing the long-term disability caused by rheumatoid arthritis."

Dr. Hawker is the lead author of the latest chapter of the Project for an Ontario Women's Health Evidence-Based Report (POWER) study. The joint study between St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) is the first in the province to provide a comprehensive overview of women's health in relation to gender, income, education, ethnicity and geography. Funded by Echo: Improving Women's Health in Ontario, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the results from the POWER Study are available for policymakers and health-care providers to improve access, quality and outcomes of care for Ontario women.

In Ontario, an estimated 55,000 women and 22,000 men have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, with women twice as likely to be affected as men.

"Unfortunately, only 42 per cent of women with rheumatoid arthritis in Ontario see specialists each year, says Dr. Arlene Bierman, a physician at St. Michael's Hospital and principal investigator of the POWE
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Contact: Julie Saccone
sacconej@smh.ca
416-864-5047
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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