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Work disability and state benefit claims in early rheumatoid arthritis: the ERAN cohort

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      Objective. RA is an important cause of work disability. This study aimed to identify predictive factors for work disability and state benefit claims in a cohort with early RA.Methods. The Early RA Network (ERAN) inception cohort recruited from 22 centres. At baseline, and during each annual visit, participants (n = 1235) reported employment status and benefits claims and how both were influenced by RA. Survival analysis derived adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) and 95% CIs to predict associations between baseline factors and time until loss of employment due to RA or a state benefits claim due to RA.Results. At baseline, 47% of participants were employed and 17% reported claiming benefits due to RA. During follow-up, loss of employment due to RA was reported by 10% (49/475) of the participants and 20% (179/905) began to claim benefits. Independent predictors of earlier work disability were bodily pain (aHR 2.45, 95% CI 1.47, 4.08, P = 0.001) and low vitality (aHR 1.84, 95% CI 1.18, 2.85, P = 0.007). Disability (aHR 1.28, 95% CI 1.02, 1.61, P = 0.033), DAS28 (aHR 1.48, 95% CI 1.05, 2.09, P = 0.026) and extra-articular disease (aHR 1.77, 95% CI 1.17, 2.70, P = 0.007) predicted earlier benefits claims.Conclusion. Work disability and benefits claims due to RA were predicted by different baseline factors. Pain and low vitality predicted work disability. Baseline disability, extra-articular disease manifestations and disease activity predicted new benefits claims due to RA. Future research on interventions targeting these factors could investigate job retention and financial independence.

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      Most cited references 42

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      The revised criteria for the classification of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were formulated from a computerized analysis of 262 contemporary, consecutively studied patients with RA and 262 control subjects with rheumatic diseases other than RA (non-RA). The new criteria are as follows: 1) morning stiffness in and around joints lasting at least 1 hour before maximal improvement; 2) soft tissue swelling (arthritis) of 3 or more joint areas observed by a physician; 3) swelling (arthritis) of the proximal interphalangeal, metacarpophalangeal, or wrist joints; 4) symmetric swelling (arthritis); 5) rheumatoid nodules; 6) the presence of rheumatoid factor; and 7) radiographic erosions and/or periarticular osteopenia in hand and/or wrist joints. Criteria 1 through 4 must have been present for at least 6 weeks. Rheumatoid arthritis is defined by the presence of 4 or more criteria, and no further qualifications (classic, definite, or probable) or list of exclusions are required. In addition, a "classification tree" schema is presented which performs equally as well as the traditional (4 of 7) format. The new criteria demonstrated 91-94% sensitivity and 89% specificity for RA when compared with non-RA rheumatic disease control subjects.
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          To validate the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), and the World Health Organization (WHO)/International League Against Rheumatism (ILAR) response criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EULAR response criteria were developed combining change from baseline and level of disease activity attained during follow up. In a trial comparing hydroxychloroquine and sulfasalazine, we studied construct (radiographic progression), criterion (functional capacity), and discriminant validity. EULAR response criteria had good construct, criterion, and discriminant validity, ACR and WHO/ILAR criteria showed only good criterion validity. EULAR response criteria showed better construct and discriminant validity than did the ACR and the WHO/ILAR response criteria for RA.

            Author and article information

            1Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre, University of Nottingham, 2Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Nottinghamshire, 3West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust and 4St Georges Healthcare Trust, London, UK.
            Author notes
            Correspondence to: Daniel F. McWilliams, Academic Rheumatology, Clinical Sciences Building, City Hospital, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK. E-mail: dan.mcwilliams@
            Rheumatology (Oxford)
            Rheumatology (Oxford)
            Rheumatology (Oxford, England)
            Oxford University Press
            March 2014
            15 November 2013
            15 November 2013
            : 53
            : 3
            : 473-481
            © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact

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            Clinical Science


            employment, work disability, social security, rheumatoid arthritis


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