Developing Best Standard Treatments for JA

The Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance has created consensus treatment plans to improve and standardize care of pediatric rheumatic diseases.

By Bethany Afshar

Posted July 17, 2013

Ask 10 pediatric rheumatologists how to treat a child with arthritis and very likely you’ll get 10 different treatment strategies. That’s because there are no standard treatments for juvenile arthritis. However, the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA) is looking to change that by developing consensus treatment plans for a number childhood rheumatic diseases.

CARRA was established in 2002 to create a network of pediatric rheumatologists across North America, providing infrastructure to collaborate more easily in large, multicenter studies, increasing the number of participants in studies and reducing the time it takes to achieve results. Today, the majority of all pediatric rheumatologists in the United States and Canada count themselves as members of CARRA, representing more than 92 institutions.

The Arthritis Foundation has supported CARRA from the start, providing funding for its development and ongoing funding for its administrative core and support for the CARRA registry.

“The Arthritis Foundation has been instrumental in providing funding to keep CARRA and its initiatives going. This support has been critically important,” says Carol A. Wallace, MD, professor of pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine and Seattle Children's Hospital and past chair of CARRA.

It was Dr. Wallace and the other leaders of CARRA who first brainstormed the idea of developing consensus treatment plans that could help physicians make treatment choices based on evidence rather than habit or beliefs. With funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, CARRA launched two initiatives: development of the consensus plans and the CARRA registry. “In order to collect meaningful data to provide the evidence of the effectiveness of one treatment compared to another one , we needed to have a starting point where patients are treated in a similar fashion with standardized collection of information,” says Dr. Wallace.

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