Objective. RA and axial SpA have an important impact on patients’ lives. The objective of this study was to explore the reporting of different aspects of that impact in publications, with a focus on differences between diseases and over time.
Methods. A systematic literature review retrieved all articles reporting on the life impact of RA or axial radiographic SpA in adults published within the last 10 years and issued from European research. The data were classified into physical impact (including pain, functional assessment and fatigue), psychological impact (including psychological distress and coping) and social impact (including relationships, family and social life). The number of articles published over time was analysed by linear regression.
Results. In all, 1352 abstracts were screened and 149 publications (40 056 patients) were analysed: 129 articles (86.5%) concerned RA and 16 (10.7%) concerned axial SpA. The mean number of articles reporting on the physical aspects of impact was 11.4 (S.D. 4.8) per 2-year period, but increased more than 2-fold (from 7 articles in 2001–3 to 15 in 2010–11), in particular due to recent publications on fatigue, whereas the number of articles on psychological aspects [mean 12.4 (S.D. 4.0)] decreased markedly after 2006. Publications reporting on social aspects [mean 8.2 (S.D. 4.1)] remained globally stable.
Conclusion. In the era of biologics, there is an interest in the patient-perceived life impact of RA and axial SpA in the European literature, but the impact of RA has been the subject of greater exploration. There are clearly trends over time in the reporting of impact.