Optimization of flare management in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: results of a randomized controlled trial

Clin Rheumatol. 2019 Nov;38(11):3025-3032. doi: 10.1007/s10067-019-04664-5. Epub 2019 Jul 1.


Introduction/objectives: To evaluate the effect of a flare management intervention guided by non-physician providers versus usual care between rheumatology visits on flare occurrence and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease activity.

Methods: Adult patients with established RA (per 2010 ACR criteria, n = 150) were randomized to the intervention arm (n = 75) versus usual care (n = 75). The Flare Assessment in Rheumatoid Arthritis (FLARE-RA) questionnaire was administered monthly during 24 months to all patients in the intervention arm to assess flare status. Telephone nurse-led counseling or an expedited visit with a rheumatology provider was offered to patients in the intervention arm who indicated they were in flare.

Results: Patients in the intervention arm completed a median of 8.5 (range 1-24) questionnaires. RA flare was reported on 122 (19%) of these questionnaires; average FLARE-RA score, 4.72 on 0 (no flare) to 10 (maximum flare) scale. Patients preferred an expedited clinic visit with a rheumatology provider during 39 (32%) of flares. The majority of patients preferred to self-manage their flare (76, 62%); some patients received nursing advice on flare management over the phone (7, 6%). There were no differences in RA flare by OMERACT9 definition, DAS28-CRP, CDAI, SDAI, anti-rheumatic treatment change by rheumatology provider, or remission by CDAI between the study arms over 24-month follow-up.

Conclusions: The flare management intervention did not have any major effect on flare occurrence or RA disease activity metrics over the 24-month follow-up. The majority of patients in the intervention arm preferred self-management to an expedited visit with their rheumatology provider.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02382783 ( https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02382783 ) Key Points • The flare management intervention had no effect on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease activity. • Patients preferred self-management of their RA flares to expedited rheumatology provider visits.

Keywords: Flare; Randomized controlled trial; Rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid*
  • Disease Management*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Symptom Flare Up*
  • Ultrasonography

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02382783