Background Over the last decades the RA-treatment strategies have changed considerably. Routines for early RA diagnosis and instituted disease modifying anti rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) have been established. In the early 2000s biologic agents also became available for treatment purposes. Despite these altered and improved strategies RA patients continue to report pain and activity limitations; women more so than men.
Objectives To study differences regarding pain and activity limitations during the first three years after diagnosis of RA in today's patients compared with patients diagnosed 10 years earlier from a gender perspective.
Methods This study was based on patients recruited to the project “early interventions in RA” (TIRA). In the first cohort (TIRA-1) 320 patients were included during 1996-1998. In the second cohort (TIRA-2) 463 patients were included during 2006-2008. Disease activity score 28 joint count (DAS-28) and medication were registered. Pain intensity (VAS), bodily pain (BP) in Short Form36 (SF-36) and activity limitation (Health Assessment Questionnaire, HAQ) were reported at inclusion and at follow-ups after one, two and three years.
Results Disease activity did not differ between cohorts at inclusion, but was significant lower at the follow ups in the TIRA-2 cohort compared with the TIRA-1 cohort. Patients in TIRA2 were prescribed traditional DMARD:s and biologic agents more frequent than in TIRA-1. The TIRA-2 patients reported significantly higher pain intensity and activity limitations at inclusion but lower pain intensity and activity limitations at all follow-ups than TIRA-1 patients. There were no significant differences between cohorts regarding bodily pain at inclusion, but thereafter the TIRA-2 patients showed significant lower bodily pain than the TIRA-1 patients. Men reported lower activity limitation than women in TIRA-1; otherwise there were no gender differences in TIRA-1. In TIRA-2, there were no significant gender differences regarding pain at inclusion. However, men reported lower pain than women at all follow-ups. Women, in turn, reported significantly higher activity limitations at all time points in TIRA-2. Pain and activity limitations were significantly reduced from inclusion to the one year follow-up but remained stable thereafter.
Conclusions Both women and men in today's early RA patient cohort report lower pain and less activity limitations at the follow ups after diagnosis of RA compared to 10 years earlier. However, both activity limitations and bodily pain are still pronounced.
Disclosure of Interest None declared