Presence of comorbidity affects both treatment strategies and outcomes in disease activity, physical function, and quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Clin Rheumatol. 2015 Mar;34(3):441-9. doi: 10.1007/s10067-014-2750-8. Epub 2014 Jul 31.


To clarify the impact of comorbidities on treatment strategies and outcomes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) using a large observational RA cohort, the presence of comorbidities was assessed using the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI). Changes in medication, disease activity by Disease Activity Score-28 joint count (DAS28) over 6 months, disability assessed by the Japanese version of the Health Assessment Questionnaire (J-HAQ), and quality of life by EuroQOL-5-Dimensions (EQ-5D) over 1 year in patients with high disease activity (DAS28 > 5.1) at baseline were assessed according to age-adjusted CCI (CCI(A)) and categorized into four groups (CCI(A) 0, 1-2, 3-4, and ≥5). Among 5,317 patients, 975 patients (18.3%) had at least one comorbidity listed by CCI. DAS28, J-HAQ, and EQ-5D increased in severity with increased CCI(A) levels. Among patients with high disease activity (n = 267), treatment with methotrexate and/or biologics and improved DAS28 scores, shown by attenuated intensity, were associated with increased CCI(A) levels. J-HAQ improved from 1.29 ± 0.31 to 0.87 ± 0.37 in 1 year in the CCI(A) 0 group. The adjusted difference (standard error) in J-HAQ at 1 year in CCI(A) 1-2, 3-4, and ≥5 groups was worse than J-HAQ in the CCI(A) 0 group by 0.32 (0.09, p < 0.001), 0.45 (0.10, p < 0.001), and 0.45 (0.15, p < 0.01), respectively. The magnitude of improvement of EQ-5D was significantly attenuated with increasing CCI(A) levels. Thus, patients with comorbidities may not experience the same degree of benefit from recent RA treatments compared with patients without comorbidities in daily practice.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents