Objective: To investigate prediction of the extent of suffering during the first year of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with patient characteristics found to be capable of predicting short term or longterm endpoint disability.
Methods: Ninety-five patients with recently diagnosed RA, participating in a prospective clinical trial, were seen every 3 mo during 1 year. The 12 month and cumulative values of disability (Dutch version of the Health Assessment Questionnaire) and pain (visual analog scale) were related to demographic, clinical, laboratory, and psychological mood variables in correlation and regression analyses.
Results: Baseline values of disability and pain were related most strongly to 12 mo and cumulative values of disability; baseline pain was virtually the only important predictor of 12 mo and cumulative pain. Other baseline characteristics had virtually no additional predictive power.
Conclusion: The short term disease course of RA in terms of disability and pain is most strongly related to the baseline values of these variables, and cannot reliably be predicted with frequently recognized longterm prognostic factors, such as rheumatoid factor status or sex.