A Narrow Window of Opportunity:

Diagnosis and Management of
Rheumatoid Arthritis in Underserved Populations

Education and Resources for Primary Care Physicians


Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that is typically characterized by pain and inflammation in the small joints. If untreated, RA may introduce complications that impact the lungs, eyes, bones, and heart. Affecting an estimated 1.3 million US adults,1, 2 RA represents the most common type of autoimmune arthritis.3 Analysis of self-reported National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2005-2018 indicates a significant difference in RA prevalence among people from different races, educational levels, and poverty-income ratio groups.1

Proactively treating RA will improve the quality of life for patients with the disorder, and many patients who experience symptoms of RA will visit their primary care clinician for treatment. The New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians (NJAFP) assembled a panel of experts to improve patient outcomes by increasing primary care clinicians’ knowledge, comprehension, and performance in managing RA, especially when treating underserved populations. This website reviews current literature and guidelines and provides recommendations for using pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic modalities to develop successful, personalized management plans for patients who report symptoms of RA.

Learning Objectives

Participants who utilize the education and resources provided on this website will be able to:

  1. Recognize signs and symptoms suggestive of RA;
  2. Determine when to refer patients with RA to a rheumatologist;
  3. Develop a comfort level in prescribing disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs);
  4. Help patients understand their disease and engage in shared decision-making;
  5. Use motivational interviewing to recognize patients’ concerns; and
  6. Recognize and mitigate implicit bias to build a culture of equity in their practice.


  1. Xu Y, Wu Q. Prevalence trend and disparities in rheumatoid arthritis among US adults, 2005-2018. J Clin Med 2021;10:3289.
  2. Helmick CG, Felson DT, Lawrence RC, et al. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States. Part I. Arthritis Rheum 2008;58:15-25.
  3. American College of Rheumatology. 2021. Rheumatoid Arthritis. https://rheumatology.org/patients/rheumatoid-arthritis

Website Content

This website includes educational materials and resources free of charge through an independent medical education grant from Pfizer, Inc., including:

You may utilize all materials without claiming CME credit; however, we ask that you complete a simple evaluation at the end of each educational activity.

Claiming CME Credit

If you wish to claim CME credit for any of the enduring materials offered on this website, you MUST be logged in. Click the "CLAIM CME" button after each educational module.

Disclosures of Relevant Financial Relationships

Expert Panel:

Louis Friedman, DO, FACP reports no financial relationships.

Donna M. Kaminski, DO, MPH, FAAFP reports no financial relationships.

Sajina Prabhakaran, MBBS, MD reports no financial relations.


Susan Arns; Theresa Barrett, PHD; Emelyn Falcon, Charles Goldthwaite, PHD report no financial relationships.

Expert Faculty

Sajina Prabhakaran, MBBS, MD

Internal Medicine

Capital Health Medical Center-Hopewell
Pennington, NJ

Louis Friedman, DO, FACP

General Internal Medicine
JFK UMC at Hackensack Meridian Health
Woodbridge Medical Associates
Woodbridge, NJ

Donna M. Kaminski, DO, MPH, FAAFP

Family Medicine
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
Somerville, NJ