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Health services research helps to improve outcomes of rheumatic diseases

Cooperation partners
Selected Publications

Health Services Research

Patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases are doing much better today than in the past. Further improvements are possible – through targeted measures in the health care system.

How well are patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases treated in Germany? What gaps do we still have in our health care system? These are questions that healthcare research is addressing.

Our working group is responsible for the German National database of the  German Collaborative Arthritis Centers, which has existed since 1993. Every year, data is collected from about 13,000 patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases. This long-term documentation allows us to observe how new therapies and changes in treatment guidelines are implemented within routine care. It also allows us to identify deficits in health care depending on age, gender or social status. Many participating institutions use the documentation for internal quality assurance by comparing their results with those of other documenting centers.

In 2020 the National database will be converted into the new documentation platform RheMIT of the Professional Association of German Rheumatologists (BDRh). RheMIT enables a uniform electronic recording for different research projects. As soon as the changeover is completed, new institutions can be included for participation in the database. If you are interested, please contact us at kerndokumentation@drfz.de.

In cooperation with a German health insurance fund, we examine claims data of persons with inflammatory rheumatic diseases. This provides an insight into the quality of care for patients with rheumatic diseases, regardless of specialist or general care. The research project is supported by the Wolfgang Schulze Foundation of the Rheuma-League Berlin.

In May 2020, a new research network TARISMA  (Targeted Risk Management in Musculoskeletal Diseases), funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, was launched. We will investigate which concomitant diseases frequently occur in persons with rheumatic diseases, how this differs from persons of the same age and sex in the general population, and which drugs are prescribed to patients in addition to their antirheumatic medication.

In the musculoskeletal working group of the NAKO Health Study, we also focus on the concomitant diseases of people with rheumatic diseases. Data from the first 100,000 participants are currently being evaluated.

The BMBF-funded joint project PROCLAIR (2015-2019) was coordinated by our working group. In cooperation with the universities of Oldenburg and Dresden, the Charité Berlin and BARMER, persons with rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis or osteoarthritis were surveyed about their complaints. Subsequently, the information was linked with claims data.

In the BMBF-funded joint project METARTHROS  (2015-2018) we investigated the influence of obesity and diabetes on the course of rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis in a subproject. For this purpose, we evaluated data from different cohorts of our program area.

Using data from the early arthritis cohort CAPEA, we investigate the relationship between the clinical course of RA and periodontitis or tooth loss. Whether specific autoantibodies can improve the early diagnosis of arthritis is being investigated in collaboration with the University of Düsseldorf.

Health Services Research Prof. Dr. Angela Zink Phone +49 (0)30 28460-622 zink@drfz.de more
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Group leader

Deputy group leader
Dr. med. Katinka Albrecht

Dr. rer. medic. Johanna Callhoff

Medical documentalists
Dipl.-Soz. tech. Gregor Förster
Dipl.-Soz. tech. Katja Thiele

Research Assistant
Sabine Achtelstetter

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  • German Society of Rheumatology (DGRh)
  • German Rheuma-Liga (DRL)
  • Prof. Dr. Tobias Alexander, Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Rieke Alten, Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Aringer, Dresden
  • Dr. Thorsten Eidner, Jena
  • Prof. Dr. Peter Härle, Mainz
  • Prof. Dr. Jörg Henes, Tübingen
  • Dr. Ulrich von Hinüber and Dr. Bettina Linhart, Hildesheim
  • Dr. Guido Hoese, Stadthagen
  • Dr. Kirsten Karberg, Berlin
  • Dr. Stefan Kleinert and Dr. Florian Schuch, Erlangen
  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Krause, Berlin
  • Dr. Wolfgang Ochs, Bayreuth
  • Prof. Dr. Jutta Richter, Düsseldorf
  • Dr. Susanna Späthling-Mestekemper, München
  • Dr. Siegfried Wassenberg, Dr. Ralf Weier and Dr. Benjamin Köhler, Ratingen
Continue to Selected Publications

Use of physiotherapy in patients with osteoarthritis in Germany- an analysis of a linkage of claims and survey data (from the PROCLAIR project).
Jacobs H, Callhoff J, Albrecht K, Postler A, Saam J, Lange T, Goronzy J, Günther KP, Hoffmann F. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2020 Jul 1. doi: 10.1002/acr.24365. Online ahead of print.

Trends in idiopathic inflammatory myopathies: cross-sectional data from the German National Database.
Albrecht K, Huscher D, Callhoff J, Richter JG, Alexander T, Henes J, Zink A. Rheumatol Int. 2020 Jun 27. doi: 10.1007/s00296-020-04634-0. Online ahead of print.

Which disease-related factors influence patients’ and physicians’ willingness to consider joint replacement in hip and knee OA? Results of a questionnaire survey linked to claims data.
Postler A, Goronzy J, Günther KP, Lange T, Redeker I, Schmitt J, Zink A, Callhoff J. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2020 Jun 5;21(1):352. doi: 10.1186/s12891-020-03368-1.

Osteoporosis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: trends in the German National Database 2007-2017. Lindner L, Callhoff J, Alten R, Krause A, Ochs W, Zink A, Albrecht K. Rheumatol Int. 2020 May 6. doi: 10.1007/s00296-020-04593-6. [Epub ahead of print]

[Frequencies of musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders in the population-based German National Cohort (GNC)]. Schmidt CO, Günther KP, Goronzy J, Albrecht K, Chenot JF, Callhoff J, Richter A, Kasch R, Ahrens W, Becher H, Berger K, Brenner H, Fischer B, Franzke CW, Hoffmann W, Holleczek B, Jaeschke L, Jenning C, Jöckel KH, Kaaks R, Keil T, Kluttig A, Krause G, Kuß O, Leitzmann M, Lieb W, Linseisen J, Löffler M, Meinke-Franze C, Meisinger C, Michels KB, Mikolajczyk R, Obi N, Peters A, Pischon T, Schikowski T, Schipf S, Specker C, Völzke H, Wirkner K, Zink A, Sander O. Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. 2020 Apr;63(4):415-425. doi: 10.1007/s00103-020-03110-1. German.

[Which patients with rheumatoid arthritis do not receive DMARD treatment? Analysis of data from the German Collaborative Arthritis Centers]. Thiele K, Callhoff J, Eidner T, Hoese G, Karberg K, Wassenberg S, Zink A, Albrecht K. Z Rheumatol. 2020 Mar;79(2):153-159. doi: 10.1007/s00393-019-00712-2. German.

Disease Burden of Patients With Osteoarthritis: Results of a Cross-Sectional Survey Linked to Claims Data. Callhoff J, Albrecht K, Redeker I, Lange T, Goronzy J, Günther KP, Zink A, Schmitt J, Saam J, Postler A. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2020 Feb;72(2):193-200. doi: 10.1002/acr.24058.

Long-term trends in rheumatology care : Achievements and deficits in 25 years of the German national rheumatology database. Albrecht K, Callhoff J, Zink A. Z Rheumatol. 2019 Dec;78(Suppl 2):65-72. doi: 10.1007/s00393-019-0680-1. Review.

Reality of care for musculoskeletal diseases at the population level : Results of the PROCLAIR collaborative project. Callhoff J, Albrecht K, Hoffmann F, Poddubnyy D, Günther KP, Zink A. Z Rheumatol. 2019 Dec;78(Suppl 2):73-79. doi: 10.1007/s00393-019-0669-9. Review.

A patient-reported questionnaire developed in a German early arthritis cohort to assess periodontitis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Callhoff J, Dietrich T, Chubrieva M, Klotsche J, Zink A. Arthritis Res Ther. 2019 Aug 29;21(1):197.


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