Exploring remission concept in axial spondyloarthritis through the perception of rheumatologists using vignettes and priority ratings

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2022 May 30;61(6):2603-2608. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keab711.


Objectives: The optimal treatment target in axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) is remission; however, a consensual definition of remission is lacking. Our objective was to explore rheumatologists' perception of remission using vignette cases and a priority exercise.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of rheumatologists' perceptions of remission in axSpA was performed in 2020 using (i) 36 vignette cases, with a single clinical picture and three varying parameters [axial pain (ranging from 2 to 5 on a 0-10 scale)], fatigue (2-8), and morning stiffness (<15 min, 30 min or 1 h), assessed as remission yes/no; and (ii) prioritization of elements to consider for remission from a list of 12 items: BASDAI, ASDAS, elements of BASDAI and ASDAS including CRP, NSAID use, extra-articular manifestations (EAMs), and other explanations of symptoms, e.g. fibromyalgia. Analyses were descriptive.

Results: Overall, 200 French rheumatologists participated in 2400 vignette evaluations. Of these, 463 (19%) were classified as remission. The six vignette cases representing 56% of all remission cases had <15 min duration of morning stiffness and axial pain ≤3/10, regardless of fatigue levels. Prioritized items for remission were: morning stiffness (75%), EAMs (75%), NSAID use (71%), axial pain (68%) and CRP (66%).

Conclusions: When conceptualizing remission in axSpA, rheumatologists took into account morning stiffness and axial pain as expected; the link between remission and fatigue was much weaker. Furthermore, rheumatologists also included EAMs and NSAID use in the concept of remission. Consensus is needed for definition of remission in axSpA.

Keywords: axial spondyloarthritis; remission; survey; vignette case.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Axial Spondyloarthritis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatigue / drug therapy
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Humans
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Perception
  • Rheumatologists
  • Spondylarthritis* / diagnosis
  • Spondylarthritis* / drug therapy
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing* / drug therapy


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal