Modified disease activity scores that include twenty-eight-joint counts. Development and validation in a prospective longitudinal study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
The objective of the study was to evaluate work disability and its main associated factors in patients with early arthritis. Argentine Consortium for Early Arthritis (CONAART) is the first early arthritis cohort in Argentina. Patients with one or more swollen joints and less than 2 years of symptoms duration were followed up prospectively in 13 departments of rheumatology. Social, demographic, familiar, clinical, and laboratory data were recollected. At first year and every year, X-rays of hands and feet were performed and working status and pharmaco-economic data were recollected. Work status (employed, unemployed, retired) and type of work were assessed by direct interview using a predesigned questionnaire. Eight hundred forty-eight patients were included, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) = 483 (57 %)and undifferentiated arthritis (UA) = 365 (43 %), 694 (81.8 %) were women, median age was 46 years (interquartile range (IQR) 35–55.7) and median symptoms duration 7 months (IQR 3–12). Patients with RA had significantly higher disease activity, worse functional capacity and quality of life, and more severe radiological damage compared to UA patients. However work disability (unemployed patient) was comparable between groups (RA = 21 % versus UA = 18.6 % p = NS). In both groups, unemployed patients had higher disease activity score of 28 joints (DAS28), worse Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) values, and less years of formal education (p value <0.005 in all comparisons). Radiological damage was greater in unemployed patients but this difference did not reach statistical significance. In multivariate analysis, disease activity was the main variable associated with unemployment in both groups. Joint involvement was the main cause of work disability in this cohort of patients with early arthritis, independently of the final diagnosis. 1. Work disability is higher in patients with inflammatory arthritis as compared to the general population. 2. Prevalence of work disability is comparable among patients with undifferentiated and rheumatoid arthritis. 3. Disease activity is the main disease variable associated with work disability.