Introduction to special section: Rheumatic disease through the lifespan


In this issue of Arthritis Care & Research, we present the first in a series of themed issues, each designed to highlight state-of-the-art information in a field of relevance to rheumatology. These themed issues will appear once or twice a year. The first topic is rheumatic disease through the lifespan. A solicitation for manuscripts for the second theme, concerning disparities in the rheumatic diseases, has already been published in the Journal.

The manuscripts submitted for the themed issue navigate the usual peer-review process of Arthritis Care & Research and therefore meet the same rigorous standards as the other articles in this or any other issue. The present issue contains twelve original articles, one review article, and two editorials in response to the solicitation for manuscripts related to rheumatic disease through the lifespan. Not unexpectedly, there are several articles each about rheumatic disease among children, those of early and middle adulthood, and the elderly. Given the relative paucity of articles submitted to the journal concerning pediatric issues in the past, the contributions published here may prove especially beneficial to those concerned with the welfare of children with rheumatic disease.

Several of the articles in this issue discuss cross-generational concerns, such as the childbearing decisions among women with rheumatoid arthritis, and the role that parents play as proxies for their children with rheumatic disease. Others are focused on the transition that people with rheumatic disease experience as they move from one age group to another, for example the care of adults with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or the risk factors for the onset of disability associated with arthritis in the elderly. The research and treatment communities in rheumatology, as in other medical subspecialties, are divided on the basis of the age of onset of disease. The articles published here highlight the fact that the problems of people with rheumatic diseases do not conform to the arbitrary divisions between pediatric rheumatology, adult rheumatology, and geriatrics.

We hope that the articles in this themed issue together may catalyze the creation of a community of researchers addressing the theme from a range of disciplines, and in the process improving research in the area of the theme for years to come.