Published in

BMJ Publishing Group, RMD Open, 2(7), p. e001671, 2021

DOI: 10.1136/rmdopen-2021-001671



Export citation

Search in Google Scholar

Comorbidity burden in the first three years after diagnosis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or spondyloarthritis: a general practice registry-based study

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

Full text: Download

Green circle
Preprint: archiving allowed
Green circle
Postprint: archiving allowed
Green circle
Published version: archiving allowed
Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


ObjectivesRheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and spondyloarthritis (SpA) are chronic inflammatory rheumatic conditions with high levels of comorbidity requiring additional therapeutic attention. We aimed to compare the 3-year comorbidity incidence and pain medication prescription in patients diagnosed with RA, PsA or SpA versus controls.MethodsData between 1999 and 2012 were obtained from Intego, a general practitioner (GP) morbidity registry in Flanders, Belgium. Cases were identified by International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC-2) codes representing ‘rheumatoid/seropositive arthritis (L88)’ or ‘musculoskeletal disease other (L99)’. The registered keywords mapped to these ICPC-2 codes were further verified and mapped to a RA/SpA/PsA diagnosis. Controls were matched on age, gender, GP practice and diagnosis date. We analysed the 3-year comorbidity burden in cases and controls, measured by the Rheumatic Diseases Comorbidity Index (RDCI). All electronically GP-prescribed drugs were registered.ResultsIn total, 738, 229 and 167 patients were included with a diagnosis of RA, SpA or PsA, respectively. Patients with RA or PsA had comparable median RDCI scores at baseline, but higher scores at year 3 compared with controls (RA: p=0.010; PsA: p=0.008). At baseline, depression was more prevalent in PsA patients vs controls (p<0.003). RA patients had a higher 3-year incidence of cardiovascular disease including myocardial infarction than controls (p<0.035). All disease population were given more prescriptions than controls for any pain medication type, even opioids excluding tramadol.ConclusionsThis study highlights the increasing comorbidity burden of patients with chronic inflammatory rheumatic conditions, especially for individuals with RA or PsA. The high opioid use in all populations was remarkable.