Ann Rheum Dis 65:899-904 doi:10.1136/ard.2005.045807
  • Extended report

Monetary value of lost productivity over a five year follow up in early rheumatoid arthritis estimated on the basis of official register data on patients’ sickness absence and gross income: experience from the FIN-RACo trial

  1. K Puolakka1,
  2. H Kautiainen2,
  3. M Pekurinen2,
  4. T Möttönen4,
  5. P Hannonen5,
  6. M Korpela6,
  7. M Hakala2,
  8. M Arkela-Kautiainen2,
  9. R Luukkainen7,
  10. M Leirisalo-Repo8,
  11. for the FIN-RACo Trial Group
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Lappeenranta Central Hospital, Lappeenranta, Finland
  2. 2Rheumatism Foundation Hospital, Heinola, Finland
  3. 3Centre for Health Economics at STAKES (National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health), Helsinki, Finland
  4. 4Department of Medicine, Turku University Central Hospital, Turku, Finland
  5. 5Department of Medicine, Jyväskylä Central Hospital, Jyväskylä, Finland
  6. 6Department of Rheumatology, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
  7. 7Department of Rheumatology, Rauma Hospital, Rauma, Finland
  8. 8Department of Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr K Puolakka
    Department of Medicine, Lappeenranta Central Hospital, Valto Käkelän katu 1, Lappeenranta FIN-53130, Finland; kari.puolakka{at}
  • Accepted 4 November 2005
  • Published Online First 16 November 2005


Objective: To explore the monetary value of rheumatoid arthritis related loss of productivity in patients with early active disease.

Methods: In a prospective cohort substudy of the FIN-RACo Trial, 162 patients with recent onset rheumatoid arthritis, aged 18 to 65 years and available to the workforce, were followed up for five years. Loss of work productivity in euros 2002 was estimated by data on absence for sickness and on income (human capital approach) from official databases. Treatment responses were evaluated by area under the curve (AUC) of the ACR-N measure and by increase in number of erosions in radiographs of hands and feet. The health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) at six months was linked to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).

Results: In all, 120 (75%) patients, women more often (82%) than men (61%) (p = 0.002), lost work days. The mean lost productivity per patient-year was €7217 (95% confidence interval (CI), 5561 to 9148): for women, €6477 (4858 to 8536) and for men, €8443 (5389 to 12 898). There was an inverse correlation with improvement: €1101 (323 to 2156) and €14 952 (10 662 to 19 852) for the highest and lowest quartiles of AUC of ARC-N, respectively. Lost productivity was associated with increase in the number of erosions and with disability in “changing and maintaining body position” subcategory of the ICF.

Conclusions: Despite remission targeted treatment with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs, early rheumatoid arthritis results in substantial loss of productivity. A good improvement in the disease reduces the loss markedly.


  • Published Online First 16 November 2005