Send to

Choose Destination
Scand J Rheumatol. 2011;40(4):249-55. doi: 10.3109/03009742.2010.541495. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Smoking at onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its effect on disease activity and functional status: experiences from BARFOT, a long-term observational study on early RA.

Author information

Research and Development Centre, Spenshult Rheumatology Hospital, Oskarström, Sweden.



To assess the effects of smoking on disease outcome in a large cohort of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Between 1996 and 2004, 1787 adult patients (disease duration ≤ 1 year) were included in the BARFOT early RA study in Sweden. Smoking status was recorded at inclusion in the study. Disease Activity Score using 28 joint counts (DAS28), C-reactive protein (CRP), Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) score, rheumatoid factor (RF), antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP), general health (GH) and pain visual analogue scales (VAS), and drug treatment were registered at inclusion and at follow-up at 3, 6, and 12 months. European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response and remission criteria were applied at 3, 6, and 12 months.


The proportion of patients who smoked at inclusion in the study fell from 29% in 1996 to 20% in 2004. There were no significant differences in disease activity at inclusion stratified according to smoking status. At 12 months of follow-up, 18% of current smokers at inclusion, 12% of previous smokers, and 11% of never smokers had high disease activity (DAS28 > 5.1, p = 0.005). Significantly fewer current smokers were in remission at 12 months (33%) compared to never smokers (36%) and previous smokers (42%) (p = 0.013). Current smoking at inclusion independently predicted poor EULAR response up to 12 months of follow-up.


The present study gives some support to earlier data indicating that RA patients who smoke have a more active disease but further studies are needed to confirm this.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center