Treatment failure in inflammatory arthritis: time to think about syndemics?

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Social determinants of health play a crucial role in health and disease. In current times, it has become increasingly known that biological and non-biological factors are potentially linked and help to drive disease. For example, links between various comorbidities, both physical and mental illnesses, are known to be driven by social, environmental and economic determinants. This contributes to worse disease outcomes. This article discusses the concept of syndemics, which although well-described in some conditions, represents a novel concept in the context of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. Written in the form of a viewpoint, the article focuses on a novel theoretical framework for studying inflammatory arthritis, based on a syndemic approach that takes into account the social context, biocultural disease interaction, and socio-economic characteristics of the setting. Syndemics involving inflammatory arthritis may be most likely in a social context involving limited access to health care, lack of physical activity and obesogenic diets, high rates of alcohol consumption, and high exposure to stressful life events.
Original languageEnglish
Article number kez222
Pages (from-to)1526-1533
Number of pages8
JournalRheumatology (Oxford, England)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • comorbidity
  • depression
  • disability
  • health inequity
  • inflammation
  • social determinants
  • syndemic


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