Function and health-related quality of life: Results from a randomized controlled trial of leflunomide versus methotrexate or placebo in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis

Authors


Abstract

Objective

To assess the efficacy of leflunomide or methotrexate compared with placebo in improving function and health-related quality of life in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and to examine correlations between response status (as defined by the American College of Rheumatology [ACR] response criteria) and improvement in these measures.

Methods

This 52-week, multicenter, double-blind, controlled trial compared responses to the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (MHAQ), Problem Elicitation Technique (PET), Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF-36), and questions regarding work productivity among 3 treatment groups (leflunomide, methotrexate, and placebo). Improvement in the PET top 5 and SF-36 scales and component scores were compared with ACR response rates.

Results

Clinically meaningful and statistically significant (P < 0.0001) improvement in measures of function and heath-related quality of life (MHAQ scores, all scales and disability index of the HAQ, weighted top 5 score of the PET, 5 of 8 scales and physical component score of the SF-36, and work productivity) was seen during treatment with leflunomide in comparison with placebo. Methotrexate administration resulted in significant improvements (P < 0.05) in comparison with placebo in the MHAQ scores, HAQ disability index, weighted top 5 score of the PET, physical component score of the SF-36, and bodily pain scale. Compared with methotrexate, leflunomide administration resulted in significantly (P < 0.01) more improvement in the MHAQ scores, 5 of 8 scales and disability index of the HAQ, weighted top 5 score of the PET, and 2 of 8 scales and physical component score of the SF-36. Improvements in the PET score, SF-36 physical component score, and work productivity correlated with the ACR responder rates of ≥20% and ≥50% improvement.

Conclusion

Significant improvements in function and health-related quality of life occurred in patients with RA during treatment with leflunomide or methotrexate. These findings were clinically meaningful and correlated with the ACR response status.

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