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Keywords:

  • ankylosing spondylitis;
  • anti-TNF-α therapy;
  • Australia;
  • physical activity;
  • productivity;
  • sick leave;
  • sport;
  • working life

Abstract

Aim

To assess effects of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) on working life and physical activity in Australia; to quantify changes in working life and physical activity that occur after anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) treatment; and to assess efficacy of anti-TNF-α therapy for AS in an Australian context.

Methods

This is a multi-centre observational study of people with AS on anti-TNF-α therapy. All participants satisfied the New York Modified Criteria and had active and refractory disease at anti-TNF-α therapy commencement. Participation involved a standardized interview, a metrology assessment, assessment of disease remission and medical record review. Interviews and patients' records were used to compare working life (employment, sick leave and productivity) and physical activity (participation rate, hours/week, and physical intensity) between the pre-AS, post-AS and post-anti-TNF-α therapy periods.

Results

Fifty-two patients took part. Participants were on average 44.8 years old, predominately male (86.5%) and had been on anti-TNF-α therapy for 29 months; 39% were in partial remission and 75% had 50% reduction in the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI). Responders to anti-TNF-α therapy were 10.5 years younger than non-responders (= 0.004). Post-anti-TNF-α therapy participants gained 6.6 h/week of work (= 0.02), and productivity improved 31% (< 0.001) compared to immediately prior to commencing treatment. Physical activity participation increased from 71% to 85% (= 0.039) and activity intensity increased by 33% (= 0.002) post-treatment. Participants gained 1.8 h/week of sport (= 0.001) and 2.2 h/week of recreational physical activity (< 0.001).

Conclusions

Australians with AS have their working life and physical activity severely affected by this disease. Treatment with anti-TNF-α therapy results in significant improvement in these parameters.