Objective: To obtain information on changes in patients' satisfaction (PATSAT) and physicians' global assessment (PhGASS) with regard to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) activity fluctuations.
Methods: Eighty-eight RA outpatients out of 207 investigated were assessed for 3 months on average after the initial evaluation. PATSAT (1 = excellent to 5 = unsatisfactory), PhGASS (visual analogue scale 1-100), and the 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28) were assessed as at the first evaluation. The only prerequisite for enrolment was any therapeutic change at the first visit. Changes in PATSAT (SATCH) and PhGASS (PhGACH) were categorized and subsequently related to the DAS28 changes. Statistical evaluation was carried out by the Kruskal-Wallis test, the Mann-Whitney U-test, and by kappa statistics.
Results: To achieve a positive SATCH (n = 26/88 patients), a median DAS28 reduction of -1.06 (-25.0%) was necessary, whereas a considerably lower median increase of +0.16 (+10.5%) caused a negative SATCH. PhGASS (n = 38/88 patients) changed positively on a median DAS28 reduction of -0.82 (-16.0%), whereas it worsened at a mean DAS28 increase of +0.55 (+16.5%). Approximately 60% congruence between SATCH and PhGACH could be observed (kappa = 0.139). The DAS28 values preceding a positive SATCH and PhGACH were significantly higher (p < 0.001) than before a negative change.
Conclusion: The patients' perspective with respect to improvement or worsening of RA is asymmetric. In contrast to the physicians' perspective, patients require greater improvement to be satisfied and less deterioration to be dissatisfied. These results may provide additional guidance in considerations about defining response and non-response in RA.