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AG Albrecht (interim group leader)

Health services research helps to improve outcomes of rheumatic diseases

Cooperation partners
Current Publications

Health Services Research

How well are patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases cared for in Germany? Do they reach specialized care early enough to prevent avoidable damage? What treatment strategies are used today and are there differences between general practitioners and rheumatologists? We answer these and other questions in the Health Services Research group with the help of primary and secondary data.

In the Geman-wide National Database of the German Arthritis Centres, clinical and patient-reported data of more than 10,000 patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases are collected annually since 1993. This continuous documentation of rheumatology care shows how new therapies and changes in medical guidelines reach routine care. It also allows deficits in care to be identified and correlated with age, gender and social status. Many participating facilities use the documentation for internal quality assurance by comparing their results with those of other documenting centers. The National Database is currently being converted to the RheMIT documentation platform of the Berufsverbandes Deutscher Rheumatologen, the professional association of rheumatologists in Germany. Since the beginning of 2021, the first medical practices have been recording their data for the National Database with RheMIT. With this platform, rheumatologists can use a uniform electronic system for various research projects and also for ongoing practice documentation.

Recent findings

Using data from the early arthritis cohort CAPEA and the National Database, we investigated the relationship between the clinical course of Rheumatoid Arthristis (RA) and periodontitis, measured by the number of lost teeth. 70% of patients have periodontitis at the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, which was associated with higher levels of inflammation, in particular, an increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate. However, tooth loss had no effect on the response to therapy and on the number of swollen joints. The data underline the link between local and systemic inflammation and the importance of good dental hygiene.

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

With the claims data, we have investigated how often analgesics are prescribed in persons diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are most commonly used. In 2019, opioids were prescribed to approximately 17% of insured persons. This is considerably lower compared to the prescription rates reported in other countries, we seem to be little affected by the internationally observed opioid pandemic.

In the TARISMA (Targeted Risk Management in Musculoskeletal Diseases) network, funded from 2020-2023 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, we  investigate the occurrence of comorbidities and their impact on the rheumatic diseases. When an inflammatory rheumatic disease such as Sjögren’s syndrome or lupus erythematosus is diagnosed, other chronic diseases such as hypertension, osteoporosis or depression are often already present. The care of multimorbid patients is demanding due to the large number of prescribed medications and the high burden of disease for those affected, and requires interdisciplinary cooperation. In the TARISMA network, we cooperate closely with the Pharmacoepidemiology and Pediatric Rheumatology and Health Services Research groups of the DRFZ.

Interim Group Leader Dr. Katinka Albrecht albrecht@drfz.de more
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Provisional group leader
Dr. Katinka Albrecht, MD

Scientist, project manager National database
Dr. Johanna Callhoff

Project coordination
Katja Thiele

Data management
Nina Kopplin

Research Assistant
Sabine Achtelstetter

Continue to Cooperation partners
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Rheumatologie (DGRh)
  • Deutsche Rheuma-Liga (DRL)
  • Prof. Dr. med. Tobias Alexander, Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. med. Rieke H. E. Alten, Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. med. Martin Aringer, Dresden
  • Dr. med. Thorsten Eidner, Jena
  • Prof. Dr. med. Peter Härle, Mainz
  • Prof. Dr. med. Jörg Henes, Tübingen
  • Dr. med. Guido Hoese, Stadthagen
  • Dr. med. Kirsten Karberg, Berlin
  • Dres. med. Stefan Kleinert und Florian Schuch, Erlangen
  • Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Krause, Berlin
  • Dr. med. Wolfgang Ochs, Bayreuth
  • Prof. Dr. med. Jutta Richter, Düsseldorf
  • Dr. med. Susanna Späthling-Mestekemper, München
  • Dres. med. Siegfried Wassenberg, Ralf Weier und Benjamin Köhler, Ratingen
Continue to Current Publications

[Perioperative management of treatment of patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases : Updated recommendations of the German Society of Rheumatology]. Albrecht K, Poddubnyy D, Leipe J, Sewerin P, Iking-Konert C, Scholz R, Krüger K. Z Rheumatol. 2021 Dec 20. doi: 10.1007/s00393-021-01140-x. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34928422 Review. German.

Association between RA disease activity and periodontitis defined by tooth loss: longitudinal and cross-sectional data from two observational studies. Albrecht K, de Pablo P, Eidner T, Hoese G, Wassenberg S, Zink A, Callhoff J. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2021 Sep 30. doi: 10.1002/acr.24799. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34590439

Comorbidity and healthcare utilisation in persons with incident systemic lupus erythematosus followed for 3 years after diagnosis: analysis of a claims data cohort.   Albrecht, K., Redeker, I., Aringer, M., Marschall, U., Strangfeld, A., Callhoff, J. Lupus Sci Med 2021 8: p. e000526-e000526

Prescription of analgesics in patients with rheumatic diseases in Germany : A claims data analysis. German version. Albrecht K, Marschall U, Callhoff J. Z Rheumatol 2021, epub 07 April 2021

[Development of quality standards for patients with axial spondyloarthritis for use in Germany]. Kiltz U, Buschhorn-Milberger V, Albrecht K, Lakomek HJ, Lorenz HM, Rudwaleit M, Schneider M, Schulze-Koops H, Baraliakos X, Behrens F, Brandt-Jürgens J, Haibel H, Hammel L, Karberg K, Kellner H, Krause D, Lange U, Märker-Herrmann E, Poddubnyy D, Sieper J, Syrbe U, Braun J. Z Rheumatol. 2021 Aug 11. doi: 10.1007/s00393-021-01019-x. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34379181 German.

[Apps in rheumatology : Is there a need for an app in therapy for axial spondyloarthritis?]. Strunz PP, Maire ML, Heusinger T, Hammel L, Gernert M, Schwaneck EC, Callhoff J, Portegys J, Schmalzing M, Tony HP, Froehlich M. Z Rheumatol. 2021 Oct 7. doi: 10.1007/s00393-021-01104-1. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34618212 German.

Factors Associated with Survey Non-Response in a Cross-Sectional Survey of Persons with an Axial Spondyloarthritis or Osteoarthritis Claims Diagnosis. Callhoff J, Jacobs H, Albrecht K, Saam J, Zink A, Hoffmann F. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Dec 9;17(24):E9186. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17249186.

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 Oct;40(10):1639-1647. doi: 10.1007/s00296-020-04634-0. Epub 2020 Jun 27.

Comorbidity and health care utilisation in persons with Sjögren’s syndrome: a claims data analysis. Albrecht K, Dörner T, Redeker I, Karberg K, Marschall U, Zink A,Callhoff J. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2020 Jul-Aug;38 Suppl 126(4):78-84. Epub 2020 Sep 18.

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.

Profiling of IgG antibodies targeting unmodified and corresponding citrullinated autoantigens in a multicenter national cohort of early arthritis in Germany. Vordenbäumen S, Brinks R, Schriek P, Lueking A, Richter JG, Budde P, Schulz-Knappe P, Zucht HD,Callhoff J, Schneider M.Arthritis Res Ther. 2020 Jul 6;22(1):167. doi: 10.1186/s13075-020-02252-6.

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 Dec;40(12):2005-2012. doi: 10.1007/s00296-020-04593-6. Epub 2020 May 6.

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.

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