UW Rheumatology Collaborates with UW-CTRI to Help Patients Quit Smoking

Doctor and patient


UW-CTRI Associate Director of Research Dr. Megan Piper is part of a collaborative research team that received a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) award from the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. This is part of an ongoing research effort, led by Dr. Christie Bartels, to identify interventions to help patients with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (a systemic autoimmune disease) to reduce their cardiovascular disease risk.

Smoking is a leading cause of rheumatoid arthritis and can exacerbate arthritis and lupus.

Piper, who is a co-investigator of the proposal, will collaborate with the transdisciplinary team to create a patient advisory board and a mixed patient-clinical staff advisory board. These boards will provide insight into important patient-centered health outcomes and develop a plan for implementing an intervention that can serve diverse, hard-to-reach patients who have rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

“A lot of patients with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus tend to see their rheumatology doctors for care more so than their primary care physicians,” Piper said. “If this is true, what if we directed efforts to address things like hypertension and smoking through the specialized clinics?”

Researchers from UW and the Medical College of Wisconsin will conduct focus groups with patients, including current and former smokers, to help fill the gap regarding the patient perspective on addressing rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, both in outcomes and care processes.

Responses from these interviews will be followed up by the creation of an advisory board made up of patients, staff and other stakeholders that will define the patient-centered outcomes, its measures and implementation strategies for a PCORI grant application submission.

“This grant will provide important background information before we apply for a federal PCORI grant,” Piper said. “Here we will be able to show that we can engage patients and important stakeholders and that we have the strategies in place to conduct a larger trial.”