Rheumaepidemiologie in Europa

Heiner Raspe*

*Corresponding author for this work
15 Citations (Scopus)


The article describes the present and potential of the epidemiology of the rheumatic diseases in Europe, considering especially rheumatoid arthritis (rA) and fibromyalgie (FMA). This is preceeded by a short review of the history of European rheumaepidemiology within the past 40 years. In rA European rheumatologists and epidemiologists have made important contributions to a differentiated nosology, longterm follow up studies and prognostication, conceptualization and measurement of outcomes and the analysis of a possibly decreasing incidence and severity of the disease. In an own study we were able to use the 1987 revision of the ARA-criteria and to test their stability over time. Among 11 534 German residents of Hannover, aged 25-74 we identified 58 with clinically proven rA or undifferentiated arthritis (uA), resulting in an estimated true prevalence of 0.83% (prevalence according) to Rome-criteria 0.53%, ARA-criteria 1987 0.33%). 39/58 could be reexamined after an average of 29 months. Only 9 of 25 ARA-1987-positive rAs maintained their nosological status. The actual care of the total group seemed widely inadequate. The Concept of FMA has been developed in Canada (H. Smythe) and in Germany/Switzerland (W. Müller) at about the same time, in Europe under the notion of "generalized tendomyopathie". Whereas the credit for developing and defining FMA-criteria goes entirely to rheumatologists from North America, it is an European privilege to provide first epidemiological data. After Jacobsson's work in Malmö/Sweden we studied in Southern Germany 541 German residents of Bad Säckingen, aged 25-74. We eventually identified 10 subjects with a history of widespread pain, 17+ out of 34 tender points and 2 or less out of 10 control points, giving a minimal FMA-prevalence of 1.9% and an estimated true prevalence of 3.0% (95%-Ci 1.6-4.4%). We identified however several nosologic as well as nosographic difficulties, that question the concept of FMA as an exclusively rheumatological disorder within the spectrum of "soft tissue" rheumatism.

Original languageGerman
JournalSozial- und Präventivmedizin SPM
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)168-178
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 07.1992

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