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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2002 Sep-Oct;20(5 Suppl 27):S42-7.

Partial control of Core Data Set measures and Disease Activity Score (DAS) measures of inflammation does not prevent long-term joint damage: evidence from longitudinal observations over 5-20 years.

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Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-4500, USA.


Several reports concerning outcomes of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) document that measures of inflammatory activity [such as swollen joint count, tender joint count, and acute phase reactant, which are included in the Core Data Set or Disease Activity Score (DAS)] may be stable or improved over 5-10 years, while measures of damage (such as radiographic progression and joint deformity) may show contemporaneous progression. Therefore, studies which include only improvement in measures of disease activity cannot document overall improvement in patient status over 5-10 years. Studies designed to document favorable long-term effects of therapy in RA must include, at baseline and later follow-up evaluation, measures of damage, such as a radiograph, joint deformity, comorbidities, and extra-articular disease, in addition to measures of disease activity. The one prognostic measure which appears to detect both activity and damage in RA over short, intermediate, and long periods is a disability score on a patient questionnaire, which might be used by all rheumatologists at all patient encounters. The need for inclusion of accurate and relevant measures of damage appears of particular importance in the current era of biological drugs, in which the slowing or prevention of damage now appears a realistic goal in most patients with RA.

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