Objectives: During the last decades major advances have occurred in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and improvements in the burden of the disease have been suggested. We examined whether there was a secular change towards less severe disease from 1994 to 2004 among patient within the representative setting of the Oslo Rheumatoid Arthritis Register (ORAR).
Methods: All living patients in the ORAR received a postal questionnaire in 1994, 1996, 2001, and 2004, including the Modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (MHAQ), SF-36, Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales2 (AIMS2), and visual analogue scales for patient global assessment of disease severity, pain and fatigue. A mixed model approach was used for longitudinal analysis adjusting for sex, age, co-morbidity, and for disease duration and DMARD if indicated.
Results: The numbers of respondents between 20 and 79 years of age in 1994, 1996, 2001, and 2004 were 931, 1025, 829, and 914 patients with similar demographic characteristics (mean age in 1994 60.6 years, mean disease duration 12.6 years, 78% females). Health status in the RA population was consistently improved in all dimensions of health, and this improvement was statistically significant for the physical dimension, global health and pain over the 10-year period until 2004. Both year of examination and years of disease onset had effect on measures of longitudinal health status outcome.
Conclusions: Health status in RA improved from 1994 to 2004, probably due to access to better and more aggressive therapies.
- health status
- longitudinal study
- physical function
- rheumatoid arthritis