Objective: To study the associations between disability and health-related quality of life (HRQoL), respectively, and radiographic joint damage, disease activity, pain, and depressive symptoms among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Data were collected through questionnaires and clinical examinations at baseline (1997) and at 2 years' follow-up among patients with RA (n = 307). Disability was measured with a validated Dutch questionnaire, derived from the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), and HRQoL with a validated Dutch version of the RAND-36, using physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) component summary scales. Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to assess the relationship between disability or HRQoL and radiographic damage, disease activity, pain, and depressive symptoms.
Results: Pain, with respect to disability and PCS, and depressive symptoms, with respect to MCS, were more important predictors than radiographic damage and disease activity.
Conclusions: Daily RA practice needs to be broadened by regular assessment of disease burden from the patients' perspectives. Patient-reported measures, such as disability or HRQoL, should be incorporated for monitoring health outcomes of individual patients and for initiating and evaluating therapy.