What matters most to Canadians living with rheumatoid arthritis?

The RA Matters Survey is the first interactive data visualization to compare results of what matters most to people living with RA in real time:  RAMatters.ca

TORONTO, ON, October 26, 2017 – Eli Lilly Canada today announced the results of the international  RA Matters  survey, which was designed to demonstrate real, patient-reported, unmet needs in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The survey reveals an important need to increase understanding of RA and its symptoms amongst those who care for or work with people with RA. Without understanding from the people who support them, patients with RA experience a lower quality of life and continue to face barriers in relationships and in the workplace.  

Using an innovative visual data collection method on a live web platform, the  RA Matters  survey allowed people to see and compare their results in real time – helping bring meaningful RA-patient-perspectives to life. More than 5,000 RA Matters survey participants living with RA from eight countries, including more than 800 Canadians, revealed that the level of understanding of their RA and empathy they receive from their loved ones has a direct effect on their physical function, behaviour, and emotions.

“Over 23 million people around the world have RA; 300,000 in Canada. The  RA Matters survey captures the daily impact RA has on people living with the disease. While our doctors are expert at treating the clinical manifestations of the disease, they don’t go home or to work with us so it’s difficult for them to feel the full burden RA places on us,” said Cheryl L. Koehn, Founder and President, Arthritis Consumer Experts. “We need to build this understanding with them, as well with our families, social circles, and co-workers, so that people with RA can feel supported in pursuing their aspirations in all aspects of their lives.”  

Among the survey findings:

  • More than 40 per cent of people with RA who responded to the survey report a negative impact on their relationship with their spouse or partner when that person’s understanding of RA is low.

  • People who feel their RA is not well understood have more difficulty in the workplace, due to fatigue, pain, unpredictability of how they feel, and the emotional stresses related to RA.

  • The biggest challenges to completing work that were cited by the survey respondents included: the use of their hands (49 per cent); fatigue (46 per cent); and pain (45 per cent).

  • Almost half reported that their career progression slowed or that they had been forced to retire due to their RA.

  • 63 per cent of people with RA find it significantly hinders their ability to exercise, and 20 per cent report they have problems with daily routines such as washing and personal care.

  • Only 12 per cent felt comfortable or at ease with the changes to their life that have resulted from their condition.

  • Sixty rheumatologists across Canada also participated in the survey to provide their viewpoint on the impact that RA has on their patients. Over 50% of the rheumatologists surveyed believe that the physical impact that RA has on patients is not well understood by others. An even greater number (62%) felt that the emotional impact of the disease is not well understood by others.

“The  RA Matters survey demonstrates the enormous burden that the disease places on a person, both emotionally and physically,” said Dr. John Esdaile. “Physicians can play an important role in supporting a patient’s emotional health and well-being by educating people that live with or care for a person living with RA. It’s also important that physicians, who make important decisions about people’s care, take the lived experiences of those people into account. By better understanding people’s concerns about their quality of life and integrating those concerns into our care, we will improve RA outcomes.”

About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterized by fatigue, pain, inflammation, loss of function and progressive destruction of joints. 1,2 More than 23 million people worldwide suffer from RA 3, with 300,000 in Canada. 4 Approximately three times as many women as men have the disease. 5

About  RA Matters

The  RA Matters survey development was led by an international group of RA patient and rheumatology clinical researcher leaders from Europe and Canada. It was designed to demonstrate the unmet needs in RA through the lived experiences of people with the disease. Specifically, the survey explored the outcomes and aspects of quality-of-life that are most important and relevant in the lives of people with RA. The survey was sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company and was carried out between November 4, 2016 and February 13, 2017, in eight participating countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom. In total, 6,208 participants (5,400 diagnosed with RA and 808 rheumatologists) from eight countries, including 869 participants (809 diagnosed with RA and 60 rheumatologists) in Canada, revealed what matters most to them in terms of work, activities, aspirations, and personal relationships.

For more information on the  RA Matters survey and to explore the findings, please visit http://ramatters.ca/.

The following Canadian organizations participated in the  RA Matters survey:

About Eli Lilly Canada Inc.

Eli Lilly and Company is a global healthcare leader that unites caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by Colonel Eli Lilly, who was committed to creating high quality medicines that meet people's needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to those who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and contribute to our communities through philanthropy and volunteerism.

Eli Lilly Canada was established in 1938, the result of a research collaboration with scientists at the University of Toronto which eventually produced the world's first commercially-available insulin. Lilly Canada now employs more than 600 people across the country, working in the areas of oncology, diabetes, autoimmunity, neurodegeneration, and pain. To learn more about Lilly Canada, please visit us at www.lilly.ca.

To arrange an interview or for further information please contact:

Jason Haug
Eli Lilly Canada Inc.


  1. Kahlenberg J and Fox D. Advances in the Medical Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Hand Clinics 2011 February ; 27(1): 11 20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135413/pdf/nihms305780.pdf (Accessed: May 4, 2017) 

  2. The Arthritis Society. Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Available at: https://arthritis.ca/understand-arthritis/types-of-arthritis/rheumatoid-arthritis. Accessed August 2017. 

  3. World Health Organisation (WHO). The Global Burden of Disease Report, (table 7, page 32) 2004, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241563710 (Accessed: May 4, 2017) 

  4. The Arthritis Society. Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Available at: https://arthritis.ca/understand-arthritis/types-of-arthritis/rheumatoid-arthritis. Accessed August 2017. 

  5. Arthritis Foundation. What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/what-is-rheumatoid-arthritis.php (Accessed: May 4, 2017)