Do Short and Sustained Periods of American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism Remission Predict Functional and Radiographic Outcome in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients With Low Overall Damage Progression?

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 Jul;69(7):989-996. doi: 10.1002/acr.23112. Epub 2017 Jun 7.


Objective: To investigate whether remission at single and consecutive visits predicts good outcome in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: The presence of remission according to American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and other criteria (Boolean clinical, Clinical Disease Activity Index, Disease Activity Score [DAS], DAS in 28 joints, and Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3) was assessed in early RA patients during the first year of the Combination Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis light trial. Likelihood ratios were used to assess whether meeting the remission criteria at single visits (13, 26, 39, or 52 weeks) and consecutive visits (13 and 26, 26 and 39, or 39 and 52 weeks) predicted good outcome in the second year (52-104 weeks). Good outcome was defined for function (Health Assessment Questionnaire score consistently ≤0.5 and no deterioration), radiographic damage progression (no deterioration in Sharp/van der Heijde scores), and both ("overall good outcome").

Results: Of the original 164 trial patients, 144 had evaluable data. In the second year, good functional outcome was observed in 35%, good radiographic outcome in 79%, and both in 28% of the patients. Almost all criteria predicted good functional and good overall outcome, at both single and consecutive visits; only single DAS remission did not significantly predict good overall outcome (P = 0.07). Sustained remission periods resulted in higher likelihood ratios than remission at single visits. None of the criteria predicted good radiographic outcome.

Conclusion: Early RA patients who reached remission according to ACR/EULAR and other criteria during short or sustained periods were likely to retain good physical function in the subsequent months. Sustained remission periods were a stronger predictor than remission at single visits. However, in the setting of low overall damage progression, (sustained) remission was not predictive of good radiographic outcome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Disease Progression*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Radiography / standards*
  • Radiography / trends
  • Remission Induction
  • Rheumatology / standards*
  • Rheumatology / trends
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antirheumatic Agents

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN55552928