The impact of disease severity and duration on cost, early retirement and ability to work in rheumatoid arthritis in Europe: an economic modelling study

Rheumatol Adv Pract. 2020 Sep 16;4(2):rkaa041. doi: 10.1093/rap/rkaa041. eCollection 2020.


Objective: RA is a progressive, chronic autoimmune disease. We summarize the impact of disease activity as measured by the DAS in 28 joints (DAS28-CRP scores) and pain on productivity and ability to work using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment questionnaire (WPAI) scores, in addition to the impact of disease duration on the ability to work.

Methods: Data were drawn from the Burden of RA across Europe: a Socioeconomic Survey (BRASS), a European cross-sectional study in RA. Analyses explored associations between DAS28-CRP score and disease duration with stopping work because of RA, and regression analyses assessed impacts of pain and DAS28-CRP on early retirement and WPAI.

Results: Four hundred and seventy-six RA specialist clinicians provided information on 4079 adults with RA, of whom 2087 completed the patient survey. Severe disease activity was associated with higher rates of stopping work or early retirement attributable to RA (21%) vs moderate/mild disease (7%) or remission (8%). Work impairment was higher in severe (67%) or moderate RA (45%) compared with low disease activity [LDA (37%)] or remission (28%). Moreover, patients with severe (60%) or moderate pain (48%) experienced increased work impairment [mild (34%) or no pain (19%)]. Moderate to severe pain is significant in patients with LDA (35%) or remission (22%). A statistically significant association was found between severity, duration and pain vs work impairment, and between disease duration vs early retirement.

Conclusion: Results demonstrate the high burden of RA. Furthermore, subjective domains, such as pain, could be as important as objective measures of RA activity in affecting the ability to work.

Keywords: health economics; management; outcome measures; pain assessment; quality of life; rheumatoid arthritis.