Effective Treatment for Rapid Improvement of Both Disease Activity and Self-Reported Physical Activity in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2016 Feb;68(2):280-4. doi: 10.1002/acr.22668.


Objective: To investigate the longitudinal relationship between disease activity and self-reported physical activity (PA) in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis during the first year of treatment with combination therapy.

Methods: PA was measured with the Short Questionnaire to Assess Health-Enhancing Physical Activity at baseline, 13 weeks, 26 weeks, and 52 weeks after start of treatment in the context of the Combinatietherapie Bij Reumatoïde Artritis-Light trial. The reported PA classified patients as meeting or not meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) PA guideline (cutoff: 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense activity per week). Other measurements included the Disease Activity Score (DAS). Since both treatment arms showed equal treatment effect, these were analyzed as 1 group with simple before-after analyses and generalized estimating equations (GEE).

Results: In these analyses, 140 patients (86% of the trial population, 66% women, mean age 52 years) with complete data were included. At entry, 69% of the patients met the WHO PA guideline, increasing to 90% at week 13, and remaining stable at 89% after 1 year (P < 0.001). Mean DAS improved from 4.0 to 1.8 during the first year of treatment (P < 0.001). In GEE analyses, DAS decreases were significantly associated with PA increases (P = 0.008). Patients with clinically relevant responses (expressed as DAS remission, European League Against Rheumatism good response or American College of Rheumatology criteria for 70% improvement response) showed higher PA levels compared to nonresponders, regardless of the definition of response, for both the WHO and Dutch PA guideline.

Conclusion: Early rheumatoid arthritis patients using combination therapy improved both disease activity and PA, a beneficial effect persisting for at least 1 year.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phototherapy
  • Self Report
  • Young Adult


  • Antirheumatic Agents