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Contributors All authors contributed to acquisition, analysis and interpretation of the data and drafting the manuscript.
Funding GESPIC has been financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung—BMBF). As funding by BMBF was reduced according to schedule in 2005 and stopped in 2007, complementary financial support has been obtained also from Abbott/Abbvie, Amgen, Centocor, Schering-Plough, and Wyeth. Since 2010 additional support has being obtained also from ANCYLOSS (grant number FKZ 01EC1002D) and ArthroMark (grant number FKZ 01EC1009A) projects funded by BMBF.
Competing interests NY and DB are supported by grants from the Dutch Arthritis Foundation (Reumafonds). MCT is supported by an unrestricted fellowship grant from Janssens.
Ethics approval The study protocol was approved by the central ethics committee of the coordinating centre (Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin) and by all local ethical committees of the participating centres.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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