Health-related quality of life and utility in patients receiving biological and non-biological treatments in rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatol Int. 2012 Apr;32(4):963-9. doi: 10.1007/s00296-010-1721-x. Epub 2011 Jan 18.


Biological treatments earn increasing significance in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but are associated with high incremental cost-effectiveness ratio compared to conventional antirheumatic treatments such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. As the most important objective of medical technologies should be to increase life years and/or patients' health-related quality of life (HRQoL), measuring QoL and utility in RA patients treated with biological therapies is crucial. The objective of this study is to compare the utility and QoL of patients treated with biological (n = 85) and non-biological (n = 168) antirheumatic drugs in Hungary in a cross-sectional non-interventional study. A measure of impairment (Disease Activity Score (DAS)-28), QoL measure (EuroQol five Dimension (EQ-5D) Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Rheumatoid Arthritis Quality of Life (RAQoL)) and utility measures (indirect: EQ-5D index, direct: time trade-off (TTO)) were applied using an interview method. The Pearson correlation was used to assess the strength of the relationship of different measures in the total study group (n = 253). The EQ-5D index (biological treatment: 0.608, non-biological treatment: 0.483; P = 0.012) and DAS-28 (biological treatment: 3.8, non-biological treatment: 4.5; P = 0.003) showed statistically significant difference between the two subcohorts after adjusting data by age, gender and disease duration. Our results indicate that patients on biological treatment have lower disease activity and higher utility; however, it was not statistically significant in all cases. According to our knowledge, TTO was not used previously in Hungarian RA patients. Utility data concerning biological treatments are essential for cost-utility models in health technology assessment reports for public reimbursement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Hungary
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antirheumatic Agents