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J Rheumatol. 2006 May;33(5):870-8.

Patient's ethnicity does not influence utilization of effective therapies in rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202-5100, USA.



Biological agents have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Given the previously documented ethnic disparity in the health service literature, we sought to determine if ethnic difference exists in the lag time between the diagnosis of RA and use of first biological agent.


RADIUS 1 and 2 are observational studies designed to document how rheumatologists treat RA across the United States. The sample analyzed here included early patients with RA who entered RADIUS with the initiation of the first biological agent. Ethnic status was categorized as White (W), African American (AA), and Hispanic (H). Lag time (months from RA diagnosis to initiation of the first biological agent) was the principal outcome variable.


Compared to W (n=1616), AA (n=147) and H (n=116) were more likely to be female, younger, and have less than a high school education. Despite similar swollen and tender joint counts, AA and H had more active disease on the basis of Health Assessment Questionnaire and patient global assessments. Almost 97% of patients had some type of insurance coverage. On multivariable analysis, ethnic affiliation was not associated with lag time (14.5 months W vs 14.9 AA vs 14.3 H; p=NS). Similarly, there were also no significant ethnic differences in time to first DMARD (e.g., methotrexate) initiation.


In a national sample of patients with RA, most of whom were insured, the length of time from diagnosis of RA to initiation of the first biological agent was not significantly different among Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics.

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