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The impact of sex and disease classification on patient-reported outcome measures in axial spondyloarthritis: a descriptive prospective cross-sectional study

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BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to explore the impact of sex and disease classification on outcomes in axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) patients, including both radiographic (r-) axSpA and non-radiographic (nr-) axSpA, in males and females, respectively.

METHODS: AxSpA patients were consecutively recruited from two rheumatology outpatient university clinics. We explored how sex and axSpA disease classification affected patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs). General linear models were used to investigate if there was an association between the continuous variables and each of the main effects of interest (sex and axSpA classification), as well as the possible interaction between them. Categorical outcome measures were analyzed with the use of logistic regression with the same fixed effects. We analyzed the relationship between tender point count (TPC) and the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI). The prevalence of extra-articular manifestations (EAMs) and the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) were determined.

RESULTS: According to the protocol, a total of 100 outpatients with axSpA were enrolled (r-axSpA males 30, r-axSpA females 10, nr-axSpA males 25, nr-axSpA females 35). The BASDAI scores appeared higher among nr-axSpA females (median [Q1; Q3], 47 [21; 60]) compared with the combined median for the 3 other subgroups 25 [12; 25]. Female sex was associated with a higher number of tender point count (TPC, P < 0.001). TPC and BASDAI were correlated for female nr-axSpA patients (r = 0.44, P = 0.008) and male nr-axSpA patients (r = 0.56, P = 0.003). Being classified as nr-axSpA was associated with a lower SF-36 Mental Component Summary (median for the 4 subgroups: nr-axSpa females 46.7, nr-axSpA males 52.3 vs. r-axSpA males 56.9 and r-axSpA females 50.4). EAMs were frequent (up to 50%). The CCI was low in all 4 subgroups, and no difference in the CCI between the subgroups was observed (P = 0.14). However, male sex had a significant impact on the CCI (P = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS: In summary, patients with r-axSpA, regardless of sex, appeared less affected on most PROMs compared with nr-axSpA patients. However, female sex was associated with a higher number of TPC. TPC could possibly confound disease activity outcomes such as BASDAI, and one can consider different thresholds for defining high disease activity depending on the patient's sex.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial is registered and approved by the Region of Southern Denmark's Ethics Committee ( S-20150219 ). Registered 19 February 2015.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArthritis Research & Therapy
Volume21
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)221
ISSN1478-6354
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2019

ID: 58297632