To explore the characteristics of refractory RA and its contributory factors based on the understanding of the rheumatologists of China.
A national cross-sectional survey was performed in 32 provinces across China, and 1381 rheumatologists were recruited. Information about the sociodemographic background, refractory RA characteristics, and contributory factors was collected using a pre-made questionnaire including fourteen single-choice and four multiple-choice questions, respectively. Each of the single-choice and multiple-choice question had several items.
In response to the single-choice questions regarding the definition of refractory RA, 52.28% responded that “the 28 joint disease activity score-erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR) > 5.1 with presence of signs suggestive of inflammatory disease” is characteristic of refractory RA, whereas 50.18% opined that “If target was not achieved with 2 conventional synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (csDMARDs) combined with 1 biological or 1 targeted synthetic DMARD (b/tsDMARD), over a total of 3~6 months” should be considered refractory RA. In addition, 39.32% rheumatologists were in favor of inability to taper glucocorticoids (GCs) ≤ 10mg prednisone or equivalent daily. Additional features considered characteristics of refractory RA were extra-articular manifestations (84.94%), interfering comorbidities (76.32%), and radiographic progression (71.83%). Among the contributory factors, 92.03% considered infection, and interstitial lung disease was chosen by 90.95%, vasculitis by 82.26%, osteoporosis by 70.67%, and fibromyalgia syndrome by 70.38%.
Our survey has demonstrated a variety of concepts of refractory RA among the rheumatologists of China. Disease activity assessment, treatment options, interfering comorbidities, and radiological progression all were associated with the characteristics of refractory RA. Key Points • This study demonstrated the definition, characteristics, and contributing factors of refractory RA from the rheumatologists’ views in China. • The clarification of the insights and concepts on refractory RA will help to make comprehensive guidelines to treat this disease, further improving prognosis and reducing the societal burdens of RA.