Objectives: ACR/EULAR Boolean remission in RA is frequently not obtained solely due to a patient global assessment (PGA) >1/10 (a condition often designated as near-remission). This study aimed to assess which domains of impact could explain an elevated PGA in near-remission patients.
Methods: We performed an ancillary analysis of data from three cross-sectional studies in patients with established RA. Three disease activity states were defined: remission (tender and swollen joint counts, CRP and PGA all ⩽1), near-remission (tender and swollen joint counts, and CRP are all ≤1 but PGA >1) and non-remission. Physical and psychological domains were assessed using the RA Impact of Disease 0-10 (numeric rating scale) as explanatory factors of PGA. Univariable and multivariable linear regression analyses were performed to explain PGA.
Results: A total of 1588 patients (79.1% females) were analysed. The mean disease duration was 13.0 years (s.d. 9.8) and the 28-joint DAS with four variables was 3.2 (s.d. 1.4). Near-remission [mean PGA 3.6 (s.d. 1.9)] was more frequent (19.1%) than remission (12.3%). Scores of RA Impact of Disease domains were similar in near-remission and non-remission patients. In near-remission, PGA was explained (R2adjusted = 0.55) by pain (β = 0.29), function (β = 0.23), physical well-being (β = 0.19) and fatigue (β = 0.15).
Conclusion: Near-remission was more frequent than remission. These patients, despite having no signs of significant inflammation, report an impact of disease similar to the non-remission patients. PGA in near-remission seems to be driven by physical rather than psychological domains. Selecting the best therapy for these patients requires a better understanding of the meaning of PGA, both globally and in individual patients.