Introduction: Clinical trials have demonstrated that treatment-to-target (T2T) is effective in achieving remission in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the concept of T2T has not been fully implemented yet and the question is whether a T2T strategy is feasible in daily clinical practice. The objective of the study was to evaluate the adherence to a T2T strategy aiming at remission (Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) < 2.6) in early RA in daily practice. The recommendations regarding T2T included regular assessment of the DAS28 and advice regarding DAS28-driven treatment adjustments.
Methods: A medical chart review was performed among a random sample of 100 RA patients of the DREAM remission induction cohort. At all scheduled visits, it was determined whether the clinical decisions were compliant to the T2T recommendations.
Results: The 100 patients contributed to a total of 1,115 visits. The DAS28 was available in 97.9% (1,092/1,115) of the visits, of which the DAS28 was assessed at a frequency of at least every three months in 88.3% (964/1,092). Adherence to the treatment advice was observed in 69.3% (757/1,092) of the visits. In case of non-adherence when remission was present (19.5%, 108/553), most frequently medication was tapered off or discontinued when it should have been continued (7.2%, 40/553) or treatment was continued when it should have been tapered off or discontinued (6.2%, 34/553). In case of non-adherence when remission was absent (42.1%, 227/539), most frequently medication was not intensified when an intensification step should have been taken (34.9%, 188/539). The main reason for non-adherence was discordance between disease activity status according to the rheumatologist and DAS28.
Conclusions: The recommendations regarding T2T were successfully implemented and high adherence was observed. This demonstrates that a T2T strategy is feasible in RA in daily clinical practice.