• Osteoarthritis;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Health-related quality of life



Data on the burden of disease and impact on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in hand osteoarthritis (OA) are limited. The goal of this study was to compare HRQOL in patients with hand OA with HRQOL in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), healthy controls, and normative data from the general population.


A total of 190 women with hand OA were compared with 194 women with RA and 144 healthy women of the same age. Health status was measured using the Short Form 36 (SF-36), Short Form 6D (SF-6D), modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (M-HAQ), pain and fatigue visual analog scales, and grip strength. Scores were compared by analysis of variance and a multivariate analysis of covariance, adjusting for age, number of comorbidities, and years of education. Gaps between patients and population subjects were assessed by calculating S scores on all dimensions of the SF-36.


Hand OA and RA patients had worse scores on all assessed dimensions of subjective health compared with healthy controls. RA patients showed poorest general health (SF-36), poorest physical function (M-HAQ, SF-36 physical, grip strength), and highest level of fatigue compared with hand OA patients. Hand OA patients reported poorer mental health. Mean utility scores (SF-6D) in hand OA and RA were 0.64 and 0.63, respectively, with a mean difference compared with healthy controls of 0.13 in hand OA and 0.14 in RA patients. S scores confirmed a marked disparity between individuals with a rheumatic diagnosis (hand OA, RA) and population subjects.


This study illustrates that patients with hand OA experience a broad impact on HRQOL compared with healthy controls. Fatigue and physical function are worse in RA than hand OA.