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01.12.2016 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

Arthritis Research & Therapy 1/2016

Optimal responses in disease activity scores to treatment in rheumatoid arthritis: Is a DAS28 reduction of >1.2 sufficient?

Arthritis Research & Therapy > Ausgabe 1/2016
Aneela N. Mian, Fowzia Ibrahim, David L. Scott, James Galloway, On behalf of the TITRATE study group



The overall benefit of intensive treatment strategies in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remains uncertain. We explored how reductions in disability and improvements in quality of life scores are affected by alternative assessments of reductions in disease activity scores for 28 joints (DAS28) in two trials of intensive treatment strategies in active RA.


One trial (CARDERA) studied 467 patients with early active RA receiving 24 months of methotrexate monotherapy or steroid and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) combinations. The other trial (TACIT) studied 205 patients with established active RA; they received 12 months of treatment with DMARD combinations or biologic agents. We compared changes in the health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) and Euroqol-5D (EQ5D) at trial endpoints in European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) good and moderate EULAR responders in patients in whom complete endpoint data were available.


In the CARDERA trial 98 patients (26 %) were good EULAR responders and 160 (32 %) were EULAR moderate responders; comparable data in TACIT were 66 (35 %) and 86 (46 %) patients. The magnitude of change in the HAQ and EQ5D was greater in both trials in EULAR good responders than in EULAR moderate responders. HAQ scores had a difference in of –0.49 (95 % CI –0.66, –0.32) in the CARDERA and –0.31 (95 % CI –0.47, –0.13) in the TACIT trial. With the EQ5D comparable differences were 0.12 (95 % CI 0.04, 0.19) and 0.15 (95 % CI 0.05, 0.25). Both exceeded minimum clinically important differences in HAQ and EQ5D scores.


We conclude that achieving a good EULAR response with DMARDs and biologic agents in active RA results in substantially improved mean HAQ and EQ5D scores. Patients who achieve such responses should continue on treatment. However, continuing such treatment strategies is more challenging when only a moderate EULAR response is achieved. In these patients evidence of additional clinically important benefits in measures such as the HAQ should also be sought.
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