Several epidemiologic surveys have documented a remarkable, yet unexplained, disparity in the prevalence of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) subtypes among different geographic areas or ethnic groups. Moreover, the therapeutic approach to JIA is not standardized and the availability of the novel and costly biologic medications is not uniform throughout the world. This disparity may have significant impact on disease outcome. The multinational study of the EPidemiology, treatment and Outcome of Childhood Arthritis (EPOCA study) is aimed to obtain information on the variability of JIA phenotypes in different geographic areas, the therapeutic approaches of pediatric rheumatologists practicing in diverse countries, and the disease status and outcome of children with JIA currently followed worldwide. Participation in the study was proposed to all pediatric rheumatology centers that are part of the Pediatric Rheumatology International Trials Organization (PRINTO), and to several centers in the US and Canada. Each center was asked to enroll 100 consecutive JIA patients or all consecutive patients seen within 6 months. Each patient received a retrospective and cross-sectional assessment. Parent- and child-reported outcomes were recorded through the administration of the Juvenile Arthritis Multidimensional Assessment Report (JAMAR). Participating countries were grouped into 6 geographic areas. Patients were then grouped according to their country's gross domestic product per capita (GDP) and the total expenditure on health per capita (HE) (source www.who.org).Currently, 8,325 patients from 44 countries have been entered in the web database. Comparison of main epidemiology, treatment, and outcome features across the different geographic areas was performed. Patients living in countries with GDP or HE below the median had lower frequency of remission, higher median cJADAS, higher frequency of damage, and were less frequently prescribed biologic DMARDs. These results were confirmed when analyses were conducted only in oligoarthritis or polyarthritis patients. These results provide further evidence of the wide difference of JIA characteristics across geographic areas in terms of age at disease onset, subtype prevalence, and frequency of anterior uveitis. Overall, patients living in non-Western countries had higher levels of disease activity and cumulative damage than patients followed in North America and Western Europe. This disparity in disease outcomes may be partially due to differences in the availability or affordability of biologics, as confirmed by the evidence of worst outcomes in countries with lower GDP or HE.
Disclosure of Interest None declared