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In this issue of Arthritis Care & Research, we present the third in a series of themed issues. These themed issues, which appear once or twice a year, are designed to highlight state-of-the-art information in a field of relevance to rheumatology. The topic for this themed issue is cost and social and psychological impact of rheumatic diseases. A solicitation for manuscripts for the fourth theme, concerning disability and rehabilitation 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 8 original articles in response to the solicitation for manuscripts related to cost and social and psychological impact of rheumatic diseases.

Those of us who spend considerable time around persons with rheumatic diseases see the clear-cut impact of these conditions on the individuals as well as on their family members. However, they do not stake the same claim on the public's attention or the public purse as conditions with higher mortality rates (although evidence of their effect on mortality is itself beginning to accumulate—but that subject is for another time).

To garner their rightful place in public health debates, we need to have recourse to data that address the impact of these conditions on the quality of life and economic well-being of the affected individuals, as well as on the nation as a whole. The articles in this issue serve this function well. Systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis are each the focus of two articles, musculoskeletal conditions are generally the focus of two, and systemic sclerosis and ankylosing spondylitis are each the focus of one. The subject matter is similarly diverse, running the gamut from employment, to psychological status, and various forms of disability other than employment, family life, and economics.

We hope that studies such as these can help make the case that society must invest more in research and treatment to address the welfare of persons with rheumatic diseases. In the present climate, with stagnant research budgets (especially when measured in real terms) and with the erosion of health insurance coverage, we may have to settle for the more limited goal of setting the stage for a later time when resources to redress the concerns of those with rheumatic diseases will again be more plentiful.