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Disabil Rehabil. 2015;37(8):686-91. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.939773. Epub 2014 Jul 18.

Predictors of severe self-reported disability in RA in a long-term follow-up study.

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Research and Development Center, Spenshult , Oskarstrom , Sweden .



Identify factors predictive for severe self-reported disability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.


Patients (n = 1910) were sent a questionnaire 5-18 years after disease onset. Outcomes were the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), Rheumatoid Arthritis Outcome Score (RAOS) and physical activity. The tertile of patients most affected by the disease were compared to those less affected. Proposed predictive factors were function, pain, general health, radiographic joint damage, swollen/tender joints and disease activity measures at baseline. Age, gender and disease duration were controlled for in logistic regression analyses.


Seventy-three percent (n = 1387) responded to the questionnaire, mean age 65 years (SD 15) and 70% were women. Worse scores in function, pain, general health and tender joints at baseline increased the risk of being in the most affected group, as measured by HAQ and RAOS 5-18 years after disease onset (p < 0.000).


High levels of pain and worse reports of function at disease onset were risk factors for being in the most disabled tertile of patients after 5-18 years. Pain and function proved to be predictors of the outcome while some measures of inflammation were not. It is important to recognize these patients who may be in need of multidisciplinary treatments already at disease onset.


Health care providers should be aware of the subgroup of patients with more severe symptoms of pain and impaired function at disease onset since they have an increased risk of being in the most disabled tertile of rheumatoid arthritis patients several years later. Health care providers should assess pain and function and act on high pain and impaired function already at disease onset as they proved to be predictors of patient-reported outcomes controlled for inflammatory parameters. These findings support European guidelines and research findings that patients with high pain and impaired function despite of well-managed inflammatory parameters should early in the disease course be referred to multidisciplinary treatment for supplementary regime.


Functioning; pain; prognostic factors; rheumatoid arthritis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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