Adolescence is the phase which exists between childhood and adulthood; therefore, people who are between ages 10-19 are typically considered to be adolescents. How does adolescence change the way people seek medical care, or are given medical care? According to Healio, researchers sought to unpack the differences in care and wait times for adolescents and younger children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Were both groups believed similarly about symptoms? Were they both seen within an appropriate amount of time?
To begin, researchers collected patient data from pediatric rheumatology clinics. Next, patients aged 11+, and guardians for younger children, were given a Childhood Health Assessment Questionnaire. Altogether, the research team sourced data from 1,577 children and adolescents. Of these, 34% were younger than five years old; 34.5% were ages 5-11; and 31.5% were ages 11+. Researchers focused particularly on how long it took between symptom manifestation to visiting a rheumatologist. Findings included:
- Altogether, 26% (410 patients) visited a rheumatologist within 10 weeks after symptoms began. Children younger than five were most likely to visit a rheumatologist within the 10-week period, followed by those aged 5-11.
- Those aged 5-11 saw wait times which were 4.6 months longer than their younger counterparts, while those aged 11+ saw up to 7.1 months longer wait times. Researchers believe that this could result from rheumatologists misdiagnosing symptoms within this group as growing pains.
Ultimately, the researchers posit the importance of listening to adolescent patients and building better communication so that this group can receive adequate care.
Interested in learning more? Take a look at the full study findings published in the Journal of Rheumatology.
About Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
Many people believe that arthritis only affects older individuals, but this is simply untrue. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis refers to joint inflammation of unknown origin in young individuals. There are multiple forms of JIA, including undifferentiated arthritis, systemic JIA, psoriatic JIA, and enthesitis-related JIA (among others). Typically, these conditions are considered to be autoimmune disorders. This means that the body mistakenly attacks itself – in this case, its joints. Symptoms associated with JIA include:
- Joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation (often in the hands, feet, and knees)
- Limited mobility or range of motion
- Skin rashes
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Iritis or uveitis