Self-reported pain and disease symptoms persist in juvenile idiopathic arthritis despite treatment advances: an electronic diary study

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2014 Feb;66(2):462-9. doi: 10.1002/art.38223.


Objective: To use electronic diaries (e-diaries) to determine whether pain, stiffness, and fatigue continue to be common, disabling symptoms in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) despite the use of aggressive treatments in contemporary medical management.

Methods: Fifty-nine children with JIA (ages 8-18 years) provided ratings of pain, stiffness, and fatigue intensity and functional limitations using a smartphone e-diary 3 times each day for 1 month. Medication information was collected via parent report and checked for accuracy by chart review. Descriptive analyses were conducted to determine typical symptom intensity, frequency, and variability. Multilevel modeling was used to analyze associations between symptoms and functional outcomes and between medication use and symptom intensity.

Results: Children reported moments of pain in 66% of e-diary entries. No children were entirely pain-free across the reporting period. In 31% of all e-diary entries the visual analog scale score for pain was >40 (high pain intensity), with 86% of children reporting a high level of pain at least once during the study period. The mean ratings of pain, stiffness, and fatigue intensity were in the mild-to-moderate range. Medication class was not a reliable predictor of differences in symptom intensity, even though 79% of children were prescribed a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug and 47% were prescribed a biologic agent. Moments of higher pain intensity and higher stiffness intensity were each uniquely predictive of higher concurrent functional limitations.

Conclusion: Self-reported pain, stiffness, and fatigue continue to be common in children with JIA, despite contemporary advances in treatment strategies, including use of biologic agents. These findings are surprisingly consistent with previous results from research using daily paper diaries in the pre-biologics era. There remains a pressing and ongoing need to optimize pain and symptom management in JIA.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / drug therapy*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Management
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Fatigue / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Medical Records*
  • Models, Biological
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Report*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biological Products