Objective: To evaluate quality of life (QOL) in adults with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), using validated measures of functional disability and generic health status, and to quantify their educational attainment and employment status.
Methods: The adult rheumatology departmental database was used to identify patients. Functional disability and generic health status/QOL were assessed by the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and the Short Form 36-item health profile (SF-36), respectively. Educational achievement and employment status were assessed by questionnaire.
Results: Complete data were available for 82 of the 101 patients identified. The median age of patients was 30 years, and the median disease duration was 21 years. No deaths were recorded. All subtypes of JIA were represented. Thirty-nine percent of patients had active disease (based on the physician global assessment scale score). The median HAQ score was 1.125 (range 0-3). SF-36 scores for bodily pain, general health, physical functioning, vitality, emotion, and social isolation were significantly worse in patients compared with controls, and this trend increased with increasing age of the patients and disease duration. The SF-36 mental summation scores of patients were low compared with those of controls, for all subtypes of JIA, and this finding was independent of the degree of functional disability (by HAQ and SF-36 physical summation scores). The educational attainment of patients was comparable to that of local controls, but unemployment rates for patients were 3-fold higher than those for controls.
Conclusion: This is the largest study in which the SF-36 was used to assess generic health status and QOL in adults with JIA. Many patients had active disease in adulthood, and although the physical outcome of adults with JIA is relatively good, a profound effect on generic health status and QOL was demonstrated for all types of JIA. Furthermore, despite excellent educational attainment, there was a high rate of unemployment among patients.