Exploring the disparity between inflammation and disability in the ten year outcomes of people with rheumatoid arthritis

James Gwinnutt, Sam Norton, Kimme Hyrich, Mark Lunt, Bernard Combe, Nathalie Rincheval, Adeline Ruyssen-Witrand, Bruno Fautrel, Daniel F. McWilliams, David A. Walsh, Elena Nikiphorou, Patrick Kiely, Adam Young, Jacqueline R. Chipping, Alex J. MacGregor, Suzanne Verstappen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To identify groups of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with different disability trajectories over ten years, despite comparable levels of inflammation.
Methods: Data for this analysis came from three European prospective cohort studies of people with RA (Norfolk Arthritis Register [NOAR], Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Network [ERAN], Étude et Suivi des Polyarthrites Indifférenciées Récentes [ESPOIR]). Participants were assessed regularly over 8 (ERAN) to 10 (NOAR/ESPOIR) years. Inclusion criteria were: recruited after 1/1/2000, <24 months baseline symptom duration, and disability (Health Assessment Questionnaire [HAQ]) and inflammation (two-component disease activity score [DAS28-2C]) recorded at baseline and one other follow-up. People in each cohort also completed patient reported outcome measures at each assessment (pain, fatigue, depressive symptoms). Group-based trajectory models (GBTM) were used to identify distinct groups of people with similar HAQ and DAS28-2C trajectories over follow-up.
Results: This analysis included 2500 people with RA (NOAR: 1000, ESPOIR: 766, ERAN: 734). ESPOIR included more women and participants were younger (mean [standard deviation] age: NOAR: 57.1 [14.6], ESPOIR: 47.6 [12.5], ERAN: 56.8 [13.8]; women: NOAR: 63.9%, ESPOIR: 76.9%, ERAN: 69.1%). Within each cohort, two pairs of trajectories following the hypothesised pattern (comparable DAS28-2C but different HAQ) were identified. Higher pain, fatigue and depressive symptoms were associated with increased odds of being in the high HAQ trajectories.
Conclusion: Excess disability is persistent in RA. Controlling inflammation may not be sufficient to alleviate disability in all people with RA, and effective pain, fatigue and mood management may be needed in some groups to improve long-term function.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Feb 2022


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