Objective To determine the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of nurse-led care (NLC) for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods In a multicentre pragmatic randomised controlled trial, the assessment of clinical effects followed a non-inferiority design, while patient satisfaction and cost assessments followed a superiority design. Participants were 181 adults with RA randomly assigned to either NLC or rheumatologist-led care (RLC), both arms carrying out their normal practice. The primary outcome was the disease activity score (DAS28) assessed at baseline, weeks 13, 26, 39 and 52; the non-inferiority margin being DAS28 change of 0.6. Mean differences between the groups were estimated controlling for covariates following per-protocol (PP) and intention-to-treat (ITT) strategies. The economic evaluation (NHS and healthcare perspectives) estimated cost relative to change in DAS28 and quality-adjusted life-years (QALY) derived from EQ5D.
Results Demographics and baseline characteristics of patients under NLC (n=91) were comparable to those under RLC (n=90). Overall baseline-adjusted difference in DAS28 mean change (95% CI) for RLC minus NLC was −0.31 (−0.63 to 0.02) for PP and -0.15 (−0.45 to 0.14) for ITT analyses. Mean difference in healthcare cost (RLC minus NLC) was £710 (−£352, £1773) and −£128 (−£1263, £1006) for PP and ITT analyses, respectively. NLC was more cost-effective with respect to cost and DAS28, but not in relation to QALY utility scores. In all secondary outcomes, significance was met for non-inferiority of NLC. NLC had higher ‘general satisfaction’ scores than RLC in week 26.
Conclusions The results provide robust evidence to support non-inferiority of NLC in the management of RA.
Trial registration ISRCTN29803766
- Economic Evaluations
- Health services research
- Multidisciplinary team-care
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
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