Comparison of employability outcomes among patients with early or long-standing rheumatoid arthritis.
OBJECTIVE: To compare employability between patients with early and long-standing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and examine the relationships between improvement in employability and disease stage after adjustment for demographic characteristics, disease activity, physical functioning, and response to therapy. METHODS: We evaluated the employability data from 2 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies of infliximab plus methotrexate (MTX) in patients with RA. Patients were incomplete responders to MTX in 1 study and had never taken MTX in the other study. Patients age <65 years were categorized as having early RA (< or =3 years disease duration) or long-standing RA (>3 years disease duration). Physical functioning was assessed using the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and clinical response was determined based on the American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement criteria (ACR20). RESULTS: Patients with early RA were more likely to be employable at baseline than those with long-standing RA, even after adjusting for baseline HAQ scores. Among patients who were not employable at baseline but achieved an ACR20 response after 1 year of treatment, after adjusting for baseline HAQ score, the patients with early RA who had never taken MTX were 3 times more likely to become employable compared with those with long-standing RA who had an incomplete response to MTX at baseline. CONCLUSION: In 2 clinical trials, patients with early RA were more likely to show improved employment outcomes after treatment than those with long-standing RA, suggesting intervention as early as possible in the disease course maximizes an individual patient's employment potential.
Han, C; Smolen, J; Kavanaugh, A; St Clair, EW; Baker, D; Bala, M
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