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Abstract

Objective. The goal of this study was to evaluate the physical and psychosocial impact of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) among a population-based cohort of adults who had the disease during childhood, compared with a control cohort of subjects with no history of JRA.

Methods. The Rochester Epidemiology Project database was used to identify all cases of JRA (based on the American College of Rheumatology [formerly, the American Rheumatism Association] 1977 criteria) among Rochester, Minnesota residents first diagnosed between January 1, 1960 and December 31, 1993. Controls were age- and sex-matched to the cases as of the date of diagnosis of JRA. A pretested postal survey was mailed to all adult cases (whose date of birth was before December 31, 1975) and matched controls from the same population, to obtain information on socioeconomic issues and functional status (using the Health Assessment Questionnaire and the Health Status Questionnaire). The complete medical records of all cases and controls were reviewed to obtain information on demographics and clinical manifestations of JRA.

Results. Of the 50 eligible cases, 44 (88%) responded to the survey. There were 102 age- and sexmatched controls (2–3 per case) who responded to the survey. Seventy-three percent of the cases had pauciarticular-onset JRA, 16% had polyarticular-onset JRA, and 11% had systemic-onset JRA. Average followup was 24.7 years and 24.5 years after the index date for cases and controls, respectively. Greater disability (P = 0.0002), more bodily pain (P = 0.0002), increased fatigue (P = 0.0112), poorer health perception (P = 0.0004), and decreased physical functioning (P = 0.0002) were reported by the cases compared with the controls. JRA cases reported significantly lower rates of employment (P = 0.015) and lower levels of exercise (P = 0.0002) than did controls. Level of educational achievement, annual income, health insurance status, and rate of pregnancy and childbirth were similar for both cases and controls.

Conclusion. Adults who have had JRA during childhood experience long-term physical and psychosocial impairment.