JointHealth™ express   June 18, 2024


Leading the Way in Rheumatology: Key Developments from EULAR 2024

June 15th – Day 4 – marked the end of EULAR 2024 and another successful annual meeting where arthritis researchers, health care professionals, and patient advocates came together to explore new pathways to improve patient care and outcomes. ACE was a proud participant and will continue to share this year’s latest arthritis research news through our patient education programs. Please follow us on our social media channels and subscribe to ACE’s free electronic newsletter to get these updates: Here are the key takeaways from the last day of #EULAR2024:

Title of study: Determinants Of Digital Health Technology Use In Rheumatology Care - Secondary Analysis Of Data From A Survey Among German Rmd-Patients


Digital health technologies (DHTs) are tools like mobile apps and wearable devices that help patients understand their symptoms and self-manage their conditions.1 These technologies continue to become more common in arthritis care. To understand why some patients use these technologies and others do not, a study in Germany surveyed 337 patients who receive rheumatology care.

Study Details
  • Data was analyzed separately for men and women and for two age groups: those younger than 55 years and those 55 years and older.
  • Over half of the patients (55%) used DHTs.
  • Average age of the patients was 52.5 years.

Factors associated with NOT using DHTs

  • Believing DHTs offer no real benefits.
  • Not using specific digital therapeutic apps designed for rheumatology.
  • Issues with internet or network coverage.
  • Being satisfied with current non-digital methods and seeing no need for DHTs.
Factors associated with using DHTs
  • Using wearable devices for rheumatology before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Being open to the idea of video consultations.
  • Having an optimistic attitude towards digital healthcare since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Flexibility that DHTs offer.
  • Using other health-related mobile apps before the pandemic.
Key Takeaways
  1. COVID-19 impact: The pandemic has encouraged more patients to try digital health technologies.
  2. Diverse Needs: There is still a significant group of patients who prefer traditional, non-digital methods.
  3. Comprehensive Care: Offering both digital and traditional options ensures that all patients’ needs and preferences are met, making rheumatology care more inclusive.
Additional Learning Resources
Title of study: Long-term Effectiveness of a Lifestyle Intervention for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Two-year follow-up after the “Plants for Joints” randomized clinical trial


EULAR – The European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology – has recommended in the past lifestyle changes for people with inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Managing RA typically involves medications, but lifestyle changes play a crucial role in improving symptoms and supporting physical and emotional health.2 The 16-week "Plants for Joints" (PFJ) program focuses on a whole-food plant-based diet, physical activity, and stress management. The goal of this study was to assess the long-term effectiveness of the PFJ lifestyle intervention on RA disease activity two years after the program ended.

Study Details
  • Studied the effects of a lifestyle intervention on people with RA.
  • Participants followed a whole-food, plant-based diet, did physical activity, and practiced stress management.
  • The trial compared these participants to those receiving usual care.
  • Evaluated the long-term effectiveness of the intervention, specifically with regards to disease activity after 2 years.
  • Those who had low disease activity (DAS28 <2.6) were given a plan to possibly reduce their medication with their rheumatologist's guidance. Changes in medication were classified as "increase", "stable", or "decrease".
  • Monitored other health markers like weight, cholesterol, and inflammation.

Specific improvements were seen in the number of tender joints and general health. About 65% of participants had better DAS28 scores with stable or reduced medication. HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) increased, and CRP (a marker of inflammation) remained lower than baseline levels. However, there were no significant changes in weight, waist circumference, LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), or HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar control).

Key Takeaways
  • The PFJ program led to long-lasting improvements in RA symptoms, which were maintained two years after the intervention. A significant number of participants were able to reduce their RA medication while maintaining or improving their disease activity (DAS28) scores.
  • The study showed adopting a whole-food plant-based diet, regular physical activity, and stress management can significantly improve RA symptoms and overall health.
  • Continuous support through biannual visits and webinars also helped participants adhere to the lifestyle changes, contributing to sustained benefits.
Additional Learning Resources
Title of study: EULAR recommendations for the involvement of patient research partners in rheumatology research: 2023 update Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases


In 2011, EULAR published the first recommendations on involving patient representatives in scientific projects. These recommendations defined the role of patient research partners (PRPs). Since then, the role of PRPs has evolved, and their involvement in research has shown many benefits. PRPs are patients who actively participate in research projects, providing valuable insights based on their experiences.

Study Details
  • EULAR formed a task force consisting of 13 researchers, 2 health care professionals, and 10 PRPs.
  • Conducted a literature review to gather current information on the role and definition of PRPs.
  • Focused on improving recruitment, selection, and monitoring processes for PRPs. The study aimed to enhance the integration of PRPs into research teams on an equal basis with professional researchers.

The updated recommendations highlight the importance of involving PRPs in research beyond just being study participants. PRPs contribute to guideline development, clinical research, patient-reported outcomes, patient preference studies, research grant applications, regulatory processes, and international research consortia. Their involvement ensures that patient perspectives are included in all aspects of research.

Key Takeaways

Involving PRPs in arthritis research is crucial for developing patient-centered outcomes and ensuring that research reflects patient needs and preferences. The updated EULAR recommendations provide a framework for effectively recruiting, selecting, and integrating PRPs into research teams. This approach will enhance the quality and relevance of arthritis research, ultimately benefiting patients.

Additional Learning Resources

  1. Solomon, D.H., Rudin, R.S. Digital health technologies: opportunities and challenges in rheumatology. Nat Rev Rheumatol 16, 525–535 (2020).
  2. Schäfer, C., & Keyßer, G. (2022). Lifestyle Factors and Their Influence on Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Narrative Review. Journal of clinical medicine, 11(23), 7179.