November 2018 | Samhain 2018

Better Together | Transforming Arthritis Research in Ireland

Fri, 2 November 18 09:00

The first national arthritis research conference open to the public, medical professionals and academics took place today (Friday 2nd November 2018 in University College Dublin.

Involving patient expertise in the research that goes on to improve their quality of life seems obvious. However, traditionally, patients have not been involved in the decision making processes around health research.

The aim of this conference is to promote a more holistic approach to arthritis research and encourage public involvement in research. The entire conference will be accessible to the public and includes patient speakers and moderators, workshops designed by patients and workshops specifically for the public to demystify what research is, and how you can get involved.

"The ethos of UCD has always been embracing and inclusive, and we continue to expand this in all areas, including our research involvement and impact. We value the mutual benefit of engaging with wider society. Through initiatives such as this conference, we are are strengthening our holistic, strategic partnerships with public, community, educational institutions and professional organisations. In this way UCD can maximise our relevance and impact for our community and on society as a whole."

said Prof. Orla Feely, UCD Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact

The conference is part of The Patient Voice in Arthritis Research initiative led by UCD Centre for Arthritis Research and supported by the Health Research Board of Ireland. Here, researchers are working together with patients, family members, carers and the interested public to improve research, health and quality of life for those living with arthritis. 

Arthritis is the biggest cause of disability in Ireland and is a catch-all term for over 100 different conditions. It is a costly disease; both personally to those living with the disease, and to the economy.  

Rheumatoid arthritis, which is due to a problem with the immune system, usually affects those of working age. About 75% of people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis are working at the time of diagnosis. The ability to work is affected in about half of these people within 5 years, with every third person diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis becoming work disabled.  About 22% of people will stop working entirely within 5 years due to their condition, and a further 18% will stop working due to a combination of arthritis and other factors such as depression.  

Minister Finian McGrath TD - 560

Addressing the conference, Finian McGrath, TD. Minister of State for Disability Issues said,

"Arthritis is a condition that affects people of all ages. It is a common misconception that arthritis only affects older people. I understand that more than 1,200 children live with juvenile arthritis in Ireland and that one in five of arthritis patients are less than 55 years old. These statistics are striking. Today’s conference is about a collaborative approach to arthritis and rheumatic disease research. I believe in the power of collaboration and what can be achieved through such collaboration. I also wholeheartedly support the involvement of patients in research and in decision making in their treatment and am delighted that the conference is open to the public. It is hugely important that patients have a voice in research that has the potential to affect their day to day lives. A great example of such collaboration and inclusivity is UCD's Centre for Arthritis Research initiative ‘The Patient Voice in Arthritis Research’ which aims to ensure more public and patient involvement in arthritis research". 

Ireland punches above its weight in terms of research into arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. There is a very active research community and have flourishing international partnerships. Significant investment has been focused on research by Arthritis Ireland, the Irish arthritis charity.

Commenting on The Patient Voice in Arthritis Research initiative, Dr Emma Dorris from UCD Centre for Arthritis Research said,

“Through The Patient Voice, we are working to reframe research to focus on the patient, rather than the disease.  By working together, people with lived expertise of their disease, doctors, nurses, health professionals, scientists, economists, researchers and policy makers, will greatly increase the relevance and impact of research, and improve the quality of life for those living with arthritis, faster.”

The event took place on Friday, 02 November from 9.30am – 6pm in the George Moore auditorium, UCD O’Brien Centre for Science on the Belfield campus. 

For further information

Dr. Emma Dorris, UCD Centre for Arthritis Research (Conference Organiser).