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Researchers Assess State of Investigational Rheumatology

Improved funding and wider ethnic representation may be needed in rheumatology work force

THURSDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- More funding for clinical research and a wider range of rheumatologists from underrepresented groups may be needed to narrow the gaps embedded in investigational rheumatology, according to a report published in the December issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Using a survey of 247 members of the American College of Rheumatology, Claude Desjardins, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues assessed the U.S. rheumatology work force and workplace as well as the research work of early-career rheumatologists. Demographics, research activity, funding, and additional insights related to the work force and workplace were examined.

The researchers identified a gap in the proportion of black or African-American rheumatologists. They also found that the amount of time physicians spent on administrative, clinical, teaching, and research responsibilities was workplace dependent; however, 78.7 percent of the academic rheumatologists relied on intramural funds to cover a portion of their salary for time devoted to research. Respondents associated research with a reduction in income, and a pre-tax annual earnings drop of approximately 2.3 percent was found to be present for each half-day/week dedicated to research. They also found that only 5 percent of academic rheumatologists received K08/23 awards from the National Institutes of Health for post-fellowship research training.

"This study calls attention to multiple issues that limit advances in investigative rheumatology. The findings provide stakeholders -- academic, federal, industry, philanthropic, professional -- with an evidence-based rationale to pursue multiple interventions for remodeling clinical research in rheumatology," the authors conclude.

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