Objective To investigate if patients with early RA with persistent moderate disease activity during the first year after diagnosis have a worse 3–5 year outcome than those who achieve sustained clinical remission within the first year, in a daily life setting.
Methods The ESPOIR cohort included patients with early arthritis of <6 months’ duration. Treatment was the standard of care. We had 5-year follow-up data for 573 patients. This study compared patients who had persistent moderate disease activity (Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28)>3.2 and ≤5.1) at both the 6- and 12-month visits, with those who were in sustained DAS28 remission. The primary outcome was radiographic progression at the 36-month visit. Secondary endpoints were clinical remission (DAS28 score, Simplified Disease Activity Index, ACR/EULAR criteria), Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI) and number of missed workdays at months 36 and 60. A Fisher exact test was used to compare categorical variables, and the Kruskal–Wallis test for quantitative variables. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine predictors of outcome.
Results Patients were aged 48.1±12.5 years and their duration of symptoms was 103.2±52.1 days. Mean baseline DAS28 was 5.1±1.3. Persistent moderate disease activity (107 patients) rather than sustained remission (155 patients) during the first year was associated with increased radiographic disease progression at 3 years (OR=1.99 (95% CI 1.01 to 3.79)), increased HAQ-DI at 3 and 5 years (5.23 (2.81 to 9.73) and 4.10 (2.16 to 7.80), respectively), a 7–11 times smaller chance of achieving clinical remission and a five times greater number of missed workdays.
Conclusions Patients with early RA with persistent moderate disease activity during the first year had a worse outcome than patients who achieved sustained clinical remission. Persistent moderate disease activity affects long-term structure, remission rate and functional and work disability. Such patients may benefit from intensive treatment.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Early Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Outcomes research