The Association of Lifestyle Choices on the Risk of Impairment in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: An Analysis of Aerobic Exercise, Alcohol Consumption and Cigarette Smoking

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Advisors: Dr. James Plumb, Dr. Rickie Brawer, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA; Dr. Boxiong Tang, Centocor Ortho Biotech, Inc., Horsham, PA


Objective: Through data analysis, examine and identify the lifestyle factors that impact clinical outcomes of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients.

Methods: Patients’ self-reported data from the 2008 RA Patient Survey was used in this retrospective analysis. The association between three lifestyle variables (aerobic exercise, alcohol consumption and smoking status) and the following clinical outcomes measures were examined: Sign and symptom scores for morning stiffness, fatigue and pain; the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), mental component score (MCS), and physical component score (PCS) of the Short-Form 36 (SF-36) were used to measure the functional status and quality of life; and Productivity was measured by the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment (WPAI) Scale.

Results: Of 2,048 patients included in the analysis, approximately 50% exercised, 50% consumed alcohol, and 30% smoked cigarettes. Patients’ mean MCS and PCS scores in the exercise, alcohol consumption, and non-smoking groups were significantly higher than those in the non-exercise, no alcohol consumption, and smoking groups. There were significant differences in the overall work productivity and impairment of patients. There was a positive association between alcohol consumption, aerobic exercise and work productivity however, cigarette smoking was negatively associated with productivity. Signs, symptoms, and HAQ scores were significantly better in the exercise, non-smoking, and alcohol consumption groups (all P<0.05).

Conclusions: These results suggest that these lifestyle choices influence the overall risk of impairment and the quality of life in RA patients.