Physical and Mental Functioning in Patients with Established Rheumatoid Arthritis over an 11-year Followup Period: The Role of Specific Comorbidities

Joëlle van den Hoek, Leo D Roorda, Hendriek C Boshuizen, Gerard J Tijhuis, Geertrudis A van den Bos, Joost Dekker

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the longterm association of a wide range of comorbidities with physical and mental functioning in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS: Longitudinal data over a period of 11 years were collected from 882 patients with RA. Somatic comorbidity and comorbid depression were measured at baseline, with a questionnaire including 20 chronic diseases and with the Center for Epidemiologic Depression Scale, respectively. Physical functioning was measured at 5 timepoints with a disease-specific measure [Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ)] and a generic measure [physical scales of the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36)]. Mental functioning was measured with the mental scales of the SF-36. To determine the association of baseline-specific comorbidities with functioning over time, we performed longitudinal analyses.

RESULTS: At baseline, 72% percent of the patients were women, mean age ± SD was 59.3 ± 14.8 years, median RA disease duration was 5.0 years, and 68% had ≥ 1 comorbid condition. The effect of comorbid conditions was more apparent when physical functioning was measured with SF-36, a disease-generic measure, compared with the HAQ, a disease-specific measure. Circulatory conditions and depression were associated (p < 0.05) with worse physical functioning according to the HAQ. Respiratory conditions, musculoskeletal conditions, cancer, and depression were associated (p < 0.05) with worse physical functioning according to the SF-36. Respiratory conditions and depression were associated with worse mental functioning.

CONCLUSION: Patients with specific comorbid conditions have an increased risk of low functioning in the long term. Targeted attention for these specific comorbid conditions by clinicians is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-14
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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