OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of education, guideline development, and individualized treatment advice on rheumatologist adherence to tight control-based treatment and biological dose optimization in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and spondyloarthropathy (SpA) patients.
METHOD: This pilot study, among two rheumatologists and two specialized nurses in a general hospital, combined education, feedback, local guideline development, and individualized treatment advice. Outcomes (baseline and 1 year post-intervention) were the percentage of patients with a Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) or Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI) measured during the visit, mean DAS28/BASDAI, and the percentage of patients using a reduced biological dose. DAS28 outcomes only applied to RA and PsA patients, BASDAI outcomes only applied to SpA patients whereas outcomes on biological dose applied to all patients.
RESULTS: A total of 232 patients (67% RA, 15% PsA, 18% SpA; 58% female, mean age 56 ± 15 years) were included in the study. The percentage of DAS28 and BASDAI measurements performed increased after the intervention [DAS28 15-51%, odds ratio (OR) 3.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.1-5.5; BASDAI 23-50%, OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.0-5.5], with mean DAS28 and BASDAI scores remaining similar (DAS28: mean difference 0.1, 95% CI -0.3 to 0.5; BASDAI: mean difference 0.03, 95% CI -1.8 to 1.9). Use of a reduced biological dose increased from 10% to 61% (OR 3.9, 95% CI 2.4-6.5).
CONCLUSIONS: A multicomponent intervention strategy aimed at rheumatologists can lead to improved adherence to tight control-based treatment and a reduction in the use of biologicals in RA, SpA, and PsA patients.