A prospective study of sicca symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis




To investigate sicca symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with respect to constancy, temporal changes of prevalence, and possible risk factors.


A prospective cohort study of 70 patients with RA was conducted over 5 years. The main variables of interest were the 6 questions on sicca symptoms used in the preliminary European criteria for Sjögren's syndrome.


Fourteen patients were lost to followup. We found that 84.2% (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 59.5–95.8) of the patients reporting sicca symptoms at baseline also reported them at followup. During the study period, sicca symptoms increased by 52.6% in general (P = 0.02) and by 80.0% for the ocular components (P = 0.04). Sicca symptoms (odds ratio [OR] = 8.35, 95% CI 1.91–36.49) and pain (OR = 1.03, 95% CI 1.00–1.07) at baseline were identified as independent predictive factors for sicca symptoms at followup.


Sicca symptoms in patients with RA are remarkably constant over time. There is also a substantial time-dependent increase in the prevalence of such symptoms. As the prevalence of ocular sicca symptoms in general populations tend to level out with age, there seems to be a disease-related increase of ocular symptoms over time in patients with RA. Present pain and sicca symptoms constitute risk factors for future sicca symptoms.