Objectives: To evaluate possible predictors of remission, normalized physical function, and work change in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: We determined in our early RA cohort the proportion of patients in remission [Disease Activity Score (DAS28)<2.6], with normalized function [Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) = 0], and with changed working situation since disease onset. Candidate predictors of remission, normalized function, and work change were studied by subgroup comparison and logistic regression analysis, including demographics, education, rheumatoid factor (RF), anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies, treatment, and DAS28, HAQ, pain and fatigue scores (on the visual analogue scale, VAS).
Results: Median (interquartile range, IQR) disease duration was 18 (29) months. Of 89 patients included, 69% were in remission. DAS28, HAQ, pain and fatigue scores of these patients were lower throughout year 1, although similar at baseline, compared to patients not in remission. At month 4, more of these patients were already good responders. Remission at month 4 independently predicted remission at follow-up. Thirty-eight per cent had no functional limitations; compared to patients with limitations, they had a lower baseline HAQ and lower DAS28, HAQ, pain and fatigue scores during year 1. At month 4, more achieved remission or HAQ = 0. Male sex, baseline HAQ, and month 4 good European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response predicted long-term HAQ = 0, but month 4 HAQ = 0 was the strongest independent predictor. Of the 40% with a paid job at baseline, 43.8% reported changes in their work situation; they had higher DAS28, HAQ, pain and fatigue scores during year 1. Failing a month 4 good EULAR response independently predicted work change.
Conclusion: Month 4 disease response predicts later remission, normalized physical function, and work change in RA.