Sanofi and NRAS launch "RefRAme the Future"

Published: 21 Mar 2018

A new campaign that highlights the importance of mental strength in helping people with RA manage their condition

  • New campaign aims to empower people living with RA to take action to live a better life with this long-term condition
  • Mental resilience is critical in RA, given that 38% of people with the condition can experience depression, and the pain caused by the physical damage of the disease can be intensified by anxiety
  • Drawing on real-life insights from people living with RA, Sanofi has developed online tools to assist patients to cope with the emotional impact of this chronic condition

Guildford, UK – March 21, 2018 – Working in partnership with the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS), Sanofi and its specialty care global business unit, Sanofi Genzyme, today launches RefRAme the Future, a campaign that highlights the importance of building mental resilience to help people better cope with the day-to-day challenges of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). To further explore the existing link between RA and mental health, Sanofi commissioned a piece of behavioural research with 10 people between the ages of 26-55 living with RA.

Philip Graves, Consumer Behaviour Consultant who carried out the research explains:

The insights we uncovered demonstrate that RA can have a negative impact on emotional wellbeing across many aspects of a person’s life, particularly when there is a perceived lack of control. It is important that people with RA have the right tools to help them take control of their RA every day and don’t just accept negative feelings - we need to encourage them to feel empowered to go back to their doctor and live their lives to the fullest.” 

The key findings from the research were:

  • For people with RA, a number of factors can contribute to stress, anxiety and potential depression. These are closely linked with the age and, particularly, life stage of the patient.
  • In particular, stress levels are highest for a person prior to being diagnosed, and also when the condition is not well managed.
  • After a RA diagnosis, men and women have different psychological worries about the disease. For men, RA can make them feel less physically strong, which affects their self-esteem and makes them feel less attractive to a potential partner. It was noted that women, on the other hand, have concerns about the impact of RA on starting a family and their ability to be a good parent.
  • Workplace bullying and discrimination can occur, which can have a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing. For example, working in an unsupportive environment, where co-workers can become resentful of perceived ‘time off’ due to sick leave, was a source of anxiety for people with RA.
  • People with RA are generally focused on day-to-day life, particularly when their condition is well-managed and are not actively thinking about how to look after their future health.3

In line with existing evidence pointing to the importance of mental resilience for those dealing with long-term chronic conditions, the insights gathered from these interviews with people with RA further highlight the need for greater attention to be paid to this issue. Sanofi and NRAS hope to raise the importance of mental resilience of those with RA through this new campaign and encourage people to make small everyday changes that may help improve their mind-set. The RefRAme the Future website provides resources designed to empower people with RA to make the changes today that may positively impact their future physical and mental health and wellbeing. These tools include guided mindfulness exercises that anyone can practice.

Ailsa Bosworth, CEO of NRAS said:

Studies have shown that addressing the psychological support needs of a person with RA through building mental resilience can help prevent the onset of mental health problems such as depression. It is important to highlight the emotional issues associated with RA, something I am well aware of since my own diagnosis. In an NRAS study conducted in 2013, 84% of people with RA stated that the emotional impact of the disease was as significant as the physical impact[i]. It is crucial to support people holistically – considering all their needs. Living with a long term incurable disease like RA requires far more than just medications – that’s why empowering individuals to accept their disease and take control of their lives with the condition is so important.

More than 400,000 people in the UK live with RA,[ii] and the physical impact that symptoms of pain, swelling, stiffness, or fatigue[iii] can have on daily life are often underestimated. While RA is typically thought of as a ‘physical’ disease of the joints, its impact unfortunately extends beyond bones and cartilage.[iv]

Dr Mohini Gray, Reader in Rheumatology and Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist said:

RA is an unforgiving, long-term condition – while often invisible, its issues are not just physical,” added ”The emotional impact on a person’s daily life can be a huge burden. As physicians, it is crucial that we are addressing all of the patient’s needs, both physically and emotionally.

Learning to look at things differently can help improve our lives today. Learn about how changing our mind-set, can help reframe our lives tomorrow.

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