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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2019 Aug 19. pii: kez330. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kez330. [Epub ahead of print]

Defining remission in rheumatoid arthritis: does it matter to the patient? A comparison of multi-dimensional remission criteria and patient reported outcomes.

Author information

NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Unit, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine.
Leeds Institute of Data Analytics, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.



In a cross-sectional study, we evaluated the prevalence of 'multi-dimensional remission' (MDR) and its component parameters, assessed using objective measures in a cohort of RA patients in treatment-induced DAS28-remission, and their relationship with patient-reported outcome measures. We sought to confirm the feasibility and face validity of the MDR construct, providing a platform for future longitudinal studies in which its clinical utility might be further established.


605 patients were selected from an inflammatory arthritis register using DAS28(CRP)<2.6. Demographic, clinical and patients reported outcomes (PRO) data were collected. Ultrasound power doppler synovitis (n = 364) and T-cell subsets (n = 297) were also measured. Remission using clinical parameters was defined as: tender and swollen joint count (TJC/SJC) and CRP all ⩽1; ultrasound remission: total power doppler = 0 and T cell remission: positive normalized naïve T-cell frequency. MDR was defined as the achievement of all three dimensions.


Overall, only 53% (321/605) of the patients achieved clinical parameters, failures being mainly due to raised CRP (52%), TJC (28)>1 (37%) or SJC (28)>1 (16%). 211/364 (58%) of patients achieved ultrasound remission and 193/297 (65%) patients showed T-cell remission. Complete data were available for 231 patients. MDR was observed in only 35% and was associated with the best (lower) PRO scores (all P ⩽ 0.05 vs non-MDR) when compared with the other definitions of remission assessed. The MDR rate was similar in early and established RA patients on b-DMARDs; however, it was lower in established RA patients who received multiple cs-DMARDs (P = 0.011).


In this study, MDR, which may represent a state closer to normality, was found to occur in about a third of DAS28-remission patients and was associated with better patient-reported outcome measures. MDR could be a novel optimal treatment target, notably from a patient's perspective. The relevance of these findings needs further assessment.


T cells; disease activity; patient-reported outcomes; rheumatoid arthritis; ultrasound

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