Quality-of-Life Assessment in Rheumatoid Arthritis
Anthony S. Russell
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic and lifelong autoimmune disorder that results in significant pain, disability and excess mortality if untreated or inadequately treated. Quality-of-life (QOL) assessments are particularly important in the absence of a cure for RA. Generic and disease-specific patient-reported QOL instruments, such as the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) Disability Index and the SF-36, have proven validity and sensitivity for assessment of changes in QOL in clinical trials of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). However, these instruments are rarely utilized in clinical practice, and patients have reported that the actual clinical assessments alone do not address important parameters, such as fatigue and disturbed sleep, which significantly affect QOL. New biological DMARDs have shown significant efficacy in improving clinical and QOL parameters in randomized controlled trials. However, the high cost of biological DMARDs compared with non-biological DMARDs is a factor in the increasing health costs associated with the treatment of RA. Generic health utility instruments that measure QOL parameters enable calculation of the increased QALYs associated with more costly treatment in patients with RA. The costs per QALY associated with biological DMARDs in RA appear to be comparable to those of other accepted medical interventions. Interest in incorporating QOL parameters in formulary and public health decision making concerning the use of new agents for RA is increasing. DOI: 10.2165/0019053-200826100-00004
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