Table 1

Characteristics of included studies

Baseline characteristics
StudyNRF+ (%)Erosions (%)Disease duration (mean, years)Study type*Intervention and comparisonDuration (months)Outcome measureITTQuality score
Ahern et al838637611.3RCT, single blindD-pen (dose reduced by 125 mg/month) vs D-pen (at initial dose)12FlareNot mentioned+
De Silva and Hazleman9326616RCT, double blindPlacebo vs AZA (at initial dose)8Clinical deteriorationNot mentioned+
Gøtzsche et al71148212RCT, double blindPlacebo vs MTX, pen or SSZ (at initial dose)6Treatment failureYes++
Kremer et al111060>40 monthsRCT, double blindPlacebo vs MTX (at initial dose)1FlareNot mentioned+
ten Wolde et al122856616RCT, double blindPlacebo vs DMARD (at initial dose)12FlareNot mentioned+
Van der Leeden et al1424100RCT, double blindPlacebo (1/100 gold) vs IM gold (at initial dose)24FlareNot mentioned+
Fleischmann et al621010.4Case seriesIFX with MTX dose tapered (down to 5 mg/week) after clinically important improvement12Changed joint countsNANA
Bacon et al103814Case seriesGradual withdrawal of prednisolone (1 mg/month)UnknownFlareNANA
Tishler et al1315807.4Case seriesMTX dose unchanged but regimen reduced from once/week to once/fortnight12FlareNANA
  • * For randomised controlled trials (RCT), a quality score of ‘++’ means good quality (all three of the following were present: adequate randomisation and blinding plus intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis). A score of ‘+’ means moderate quality (one or two of these were missing or not mentioned) and a score of ‘–‘means poor quality (all three were missing or not mentioned).

  • These trials were not included in the meta-analysis as they are case series.

  • AZA, azathioprine; DMARD, disease-modifying antirheumatic drug; D-pen, D-penicillamine; IFX, infliximab; IM, intramuscular; MTX, methotrexate; pen, penicillamine; RF+, rheumatoid factor positive; SSZ, sulphasalazine.