Health services research analyses inputs, processes and outcomes of health care and evaluates current or novel strategies in order to improve health care provision. An important instrument of health care research at the DRFZ is the national database of the arthritis centres which has been collecting clinical data and patient-reported outcomes of 15,000 adults and 14,000 children with rheumatic diseases in Germany annually for more than 20 years.
Over the years, the data show continuous improvements in physician and patient reported outcomes. In rheumatoid arthritis, average disease activity has fallen from a high moderate to low level, indication distinctly better disease control. The ability to work increased significantly, the burden of illness due to pain or functional limitations decreased. Treatment costs have risen significantly due to novel treatment options and strategies while indirect costs due to early retirement decreased.
Considerable differences can be found when comparing patients treated by rheumatologists and non-specialists, in particular with regard to drug treatment strategies. Treatment according to evidence-based guidelines requires involvement of a rheumatologist with background in internal medicine.
Further research topics
Rheumatism - a disease with many faces
Rheumatic disease in children and adolescents
How safe and effective are new therapies in clinical routine?
Dialog between the intestinal microflora and the immune system