Burden and trajectory of multimorbidity in rheumatoid arthritis: a matched cohort study from 2006 to 2015

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To compare the onset and trajectory of multimorbidity between individuals with and without rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


A matched, retrospective cohort study was completed in a large, US commercial insurance database (MarketScan) from 2006 to 2015. Using validated algorithms, patients with RA (overall and incident) were age-matched and sex-matched to patients without RA. Diagnostic codes for 44 preidentified chronic conditions were selected to determine the presence (≥2 conditions) and burden (count) of multimorbidity. Cross-sectional comparisons were completed using the overall RA cohort and conditional logistic and negative binomial regression models. Trajectories of multimorbidity were assessed within the incident RA subcohort using generalised estimating equations.


The overall cohort (n=277 782) and incident subcohort (n=61 124) were female predominant (76.5%, 74.1%) with a mean age of 55.6 years and 54.5 years, respectively. The cross-sectional prevalence (OR 2.29, 95% CI 2.25 to 2.34) and burden (ratio of conditions 1.68, 95% CI 1.66 to 1.70) of multimorbidity were significantly higher in RA than non-RA in the overall cohort. Within the incident RA cohort, patients with RA had more chronic conditions than non-RA (β 1.13, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.17), and the rate of accruing chronic conditions was significantly higher in RA compared with non-RA (RA × follow-up year, β 0.21, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.21, p<0.001). Results were similar when including the pre-RA period and in several sensitivity analyses.


Multimorbidity is highly prevalent in RA and progresses more rapidly in patients with RA than in patients without RA during and immediately following RA onset. Therefore, multimorbidity should be aggressively identified and targeted early in the RA disease course.

View the article @ Annals of the rheumatic diseases

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