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JAMA. 2011 Feb 2;305(5):480-6. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.67.

Receipt of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs among patients with rheumatoid arthritis in Medicare managed care plans.

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  • 1Stanford University, Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, 1000 Welch Rd, Ste 203, Stanford, CA 94304, USA.



In 2005, the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) introduced a quality measure to assess the receipt of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


To identify sociodemographic, community, and health plan factors associated with DMARD receipt among Medicare managed care enrollees.


We analyzed individual-level HEDIS data for 93,143 patients who were at least 65 years old with at least 2 diagnoses of RA within a measurement year (during 2005-2008). Logistic regression models with generalized estimating equations were used to determine factors associated with DMARD receipt and logistic regression was used to adjust health plan performance for case mix.


Receipt or nonreceipt of DMARD.


The mean age of patients was 74 years; 75% were women and 82% were white. Overall performance on the HEDIS measure for RA was 59% in 2005, increasing to 67% in 2008 (P for trend <.001). The largest difference in performance was based on age: patients aged 85 years and older had a 30 percentage point lower rate of DMARD receipt (95% confidence interval [CI], -29 to -32 points; P < .001), compared with patients 65 to 69 years of age, even after adjusting for other factors. Lower percentage point rates were also found for patients who were men (-3 points; 95% CI, -5 to -2 points; P < .001), of black race (-4 points; 95% CI, -6 to -2 points; P < .001), with low personal income (-6 points; 95% CI, -8 to -5 points; P < .001), with the lowest zip code-based socioeconomic status (-4 points; 95% CI, -6 to 2 points; P < .001), or enrolled in for-profit health plans (-4 points; 95% CI, -7 to 0 points; P < .001); and in the Middle Atlantic region (-7 points; 95% CI, -13 to -2 points; P < .001) and South Atlantic regions (-11 points; 95% CI, -20 to -3 points; P < .001) as compared with the Pacific region. Performance varied widely by health plan, ranging from 16% to 87%.


Among Medicare managed care enrollees carrying a diagnosis of RA between 2005 and 2008, 63% received a DMARD. Receipt of DMARDs varied based on demographic factors, socioeconomic status, geographic location, and health plan.

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