Your participation in CATCH has allowed the team to look at a lot of data about people who are diagnosed with early rheumatoid arthritis and look at trends over a long period of time, to see what others like you have in common, or to see the most effective way to treat people with medications. The researchers then present these findings to other researchers at national and international scientific meetings - sometimes they give a talk and other times they will give a poster (at scientific meetings there are dedicated poster sessions where researchers really stand by posters that they've made about their research and findings at certain times and then talk to people who come by to read their posters). Researchers have to 'apply' to present their research and work at meetings, and they do that by creating an 'abstract' which is a shortened version of what they wish to present at a meeting.

All of the CATCH team research abstracts are provided here by year. Each abstract is split in to a 'short' version to give you a simple overview of the research, and if you click on the 'read more' section there is a longer version of the abstract with a few more details for you. If the CATCH team has published a scientific paper on this topic, we have also provided a link to the paper for you. We have tried to use simple language so that you can understand what the researchers did and what they found. You may wish to open our Glossary page beside the abstracts as you read them and we have also linked some more difficult terms directly to the Glossary so you can look up these words as you read (those words are shown in dark red).

If you are interested in reading the full scientific papers that have resulted from CATCH research, you can click here. The attachment provides you with information on all CATCH publications and links to the websites where they are found.

We thank you for your participation in CATCH - none of this research and none of these abstracts would be here without you.


Patient Self Reported Health Related Quality Of Life Improves With Effective Treatment In Early Inflammatory Arthritis (EIA)

C.A. Hitchon1, G. Boire2, B. Haraoui3, S. Jamal4, J. Pope5, C.D. Thorne6, D. Mosher7, V. Alhuwalia8, W. Bensen9, M. Larche9, M. Zummer10, M. Kraishi11, B. Nair12, A. Klinkhoff13, A. Cividino9, V. Bykerk14. 1Arthritis Center, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg; 2Rheumatology Division, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke; 3Rheumatic Disease Unit, Institut de Rhumatologie, Montreal; 4St Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto; 5Rheumatology, St Joseph Health Care, University of Western Ontario, London; 6South Lake Regional Health Center, Newmarket; 7Rheumatology, Dalhousie University, Halifax; 8Rheumatologist, Brampton; 9Rheumatology, McMaster University, Hamilton; 10Rheumatology, Hopital Maisonneuve Rosement, University of Montreal, Montreal; 11Rheumatology, Memorial University, Newfoundland; 12Rheumatology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon; 13Mary Pack Arthritis Center, University of BC, Vancouver; 14Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto

The CATCH researchers wanted to see how patients with early inflammatory arthritis (EIA) reported their own physical abilities and functions and their 'health-reported quality of life' (HRQOL). During the year-long study, patients were treated with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and answered surveys about their functional abilities. The surveys were the modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (or mHAQ) and the short form 12 health survey (SF12) which has sections about mental and physical health and measures health-reported quality of life. There were 116 patients in the study at the start and 82% of them were taking DMARDs for their EIA. By one year, DMARD use had increased in 31 patients and decreased in 33 patients and 70% of patients were responding well to treatment and 54% were in remission. After looking at the questionnaire responses, the researchers concluded that the patients' responses to the HRQOL survey improved when patients were doing well on DMARDs and changed depending on how active their RA was at the time.

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What was the purpose of the study?
Rheumatologists try to treat patients with early inflammatory arthritis (EIA) so that they achieve remission, which has been shown to help how EIA patients do in the long term. When patients are in clinical trials for their EIA, they report better health related quality of life (HRQOL). The CATCH researchers wanted to see how patients reported their HRQOL and their own functional abilities, which is how well they manage and do everyday tasks.

How was the study done?
The researchers reviewed the medical records of patients who were in the CATCH study. Patients answered questionnaires at the start of the study and at one year about their functional status with a survey called the modified Health Assessment Questionnaire or the mHAQ. They answered another survey called the short form 12 health survey (SF12) to report on their health related quality of life. The SF12 has questions about physical and mental health. The researchers also looked at how well patients were responding to their treatment using a standardized tool called the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) method, if patients were in remission (defined by the Disease Activity Score or DAS being below a score of 2.6) or if patients were in sustained remission which means being in remission for at least 6 months in a row.

What were the results of the study?
For 116 patients, 82% started on DMARDs and by 1 year DMARDs were increased in 31 patients and reduced in 33 patients. At one year 70% of patients were responding well to therapy and 54% were in remission. At the study start, SF12 scores were below average (meaning that patients were not doing well physically or mentally) and at one year, these scores had improved (meaning that patients were doing better physically and mentally). At one year patients in remission versus those who were not had higher scores about their physical well-being and similar scores about their mental well-being. Patients in sustained remission were doing better physically and mentally than those who were not in sustained remission. Lastly, at one year, disease activity score was related to how well patients were doing physically and how well they could do daily activities and tasks.

Overall the researchers saw that HRQOL improved when DMARD treatment was working well for patients and that the patients' disease activity influences how they respond to the HRQOL surveys.


Prognostic Value of Patient History, Radiography and Serology On Poor Outcomes in Undifferentiated Inflammatory Arthritis Patients

Maria A. Petre1, Carly K. Cheng1, Gilles Boire2, Janet Pope3, Boulos Haraoui4, Carol A. Hitchon5, Shahin Jamal6, J. Carter Thorne7, and Vivian P. Bykerk1. 1Mt Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON; 2Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC; 3St Joseph Health Care, London, ON; 4Institut de Rhumatologie de Montréal, Montreal, QC; 5University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB; 6St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, ON; 7Southlake Regional Health Centre, Newmarket, ON

The CATCH researchers wanted to see if people with undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis (UIA) would develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over time. If patients did develop RA, the researchers also wanted to see if there were any factors could predict poor RA outcomes. From patient medical records, the researchers looked to see if any of the following factors could be related to RA outcomes: age at diagnosis, gender, if patients smoked or not, use of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), rheumatoid factor status, and if toe and foot joints were affected. Of 229 patients completing the one-year study, 23% had UIA at the start, and 64% of those still had UIA at 1 year, while 36% developed RA. Early tenderness and damage of toe joints called MTP or metatarsophalangeal joints but not smoking status predicted which patients developed RA.

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What was the purpose of the study?
The CATCH researchers wanted to see if people with undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis (UIA) would develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over time. If patients did develop RA, the researchers also wanted to see if any factors could predict poor RA outcomes. They looked at factors such as patient history, physical exam, blood work (also called serology), and x-ray (also called radiography) for patient outcomes.

How was the study done?
Patients with UIA do not meet special criteria that physicians use to diagnose RA. Medical records of patients in CATCH were reviewed, and the researchers looked to see if any of the following could be related to RA outcomes: age at the start of the study, gender, if patients smoked, use of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), rheumatoid factor (RF) status, and toe joints being affected which are called MTP or metatarsophalangeal joints. The researchers paid special attention to patients' feet joints because they are currently not used very much when physicians diagnose RA.

What were the results?
Of 229 patients in the study, 23% had UIA at the beginning of the study and one year later, 64% of those who initially had UIA still had UIA and 36% developed RA.

The researchers found that the early presence of MTP tenderness and damage predicted which patients developed RA, while whether or not they smoked was not predictive. More studies about other factors such as blood markers need to be done.


Successful Clinical Outcomes in Canadian Early Inflammatory Arthritis. Patients’ Data from the CATCH Study

V.P. Bykerk1, G. Boire2, B. Haraoui3, J. Pope4, C. Hitchon5, S. Jamal6, C.K. Cheng1, C. Thorne7, D. Mosher8, V. Ahluwalia9, M. Larché10, B. Bensen10, M. Khraishi11, M. Zummer12, B. Nair13, M. Bell14, A. Cividino10, A. Klinkhoff15. 1Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto; 2Rheumatology Division, Université de Sherbrooke; 3Rheumatic Disease Unit, Institut de Rhumatologie; 4Rheumatology, St Joseph Health Care, University of Western Ontario; 5Arthritis Center, University of Manitoba; 6St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto; 7Southlake Regional Health Centre; 8Rheumatology, Dalhousie University; 9Rheumatology, Brampton; 10Rheumatology, McMaster University, 11Memorial University; 12Hopital Maisonneuve Rosemont, University of Montreal; 13University of Saskatchewan; 14Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; 15Mary Pack Arthritis Center, University of British Columbia.

The CATCH researchers wanted to see the disease outcomes in patients with early inflammatory arthritis (EIA). Patients were seen by their doctor at the beginning of the study and then every 3 months, and treated with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in an attempt to get them in to remission. By starting patients early on DMARDs and sometimes on drugs called glucocorticoids, many patients went in to remission fairly quickly. The researchers would like to do further studies to help them understand what predicts patient outcomes.

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What was the purpose of the study?
The CATCH researchers wanted to observe the disease outcomes in patients with early inflammatory arthritis (EIA).

How was the study done?
Patients in the CATCH study were first put on DMARDs, usually including drugs such as methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine and sulfasalazine, aiming to get patients in to remission. Patients were seen by their doctor at the beginning of the study and every 3 months after that. At each visit, patients answered questionnaires called patient reported outcomes, tender joint counts and swollen joint counts were taken, and routine blood tests were done.


At the start of the study, patients had an average of 10 tender joints and 8 swollen joints, and over time these numbers generally decreased. At 6 months, average numbers of tender joints were down to 5 and swollen joints were 4, and at 1 year, tender joints were 3 and swollen joints were 2.5. The percentages of patients in high, moderate, and low disease activity state (for short these are shown as HDAS, MDAS, LDAS, respectively) and in remission (short form is REM) also changed with time from:

  • Study start: 29% HDAS, 34% MDAS, 12% LDAS, and 24% REM
  • 6 months: 13% HDAS, 26% MDAS, 15% LDAS, and 46% REM
  • 12 months: 20% HDAS, 27% MDAS, 9% LDAS, and 54% REM

A large number of EIA patients got in to remission with early use of DMARDs and/or glucocorticoids. However, further studies will be done to find what predicts patient outcomes so patients can be treated appropriately from the time they are diagnosed.


The Clinical Course And Treatment Of Early Inflammatory Arthritis

W. Katchamart1, G. Boire2, J. Pope3, B. Haraoui4, C. Hitchon5, S. Jamal6, C. Thorne7, D. Mosher8, V. Ahluwalia9, W. Bensen10, M. Larché10, M. Zummer11, M. Kraishi12, B. Nair13, A. Klinkhoff14, A. Cividino10, V. Bykerk1. 1Rheumatology, Mount Sinai hospital, Toronto; 2Rheumatology, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke; 3Rheumatology, University of Western Ontario, London; 4Rheumatology, Institut de Rhumatologie, Montreal; 5Rheumatology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg; 6Rheumatology, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto; 7Rheumatology, South Lake Regional Health Center, Toronto; 8Rheumatology, Dalhousie University, Halifax; 9Rheumatology, Rheumatology, Brampton; 10Rheumatology, McMaster University, Hamilton; 11Hopital Maisonneuve Rosement, University of Montreal, Montreal; 12Rheumatology, Memorial University, St. John's; 13Rheumatology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon; 14Mary Pack Arthritis Center, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

The CATCH researchers wanted to see how patients with early inflammatory arthritis (EIA) did over time by watching their disease course, prognosis and treatment. Patients were part of the study if they had disease activity scores (called DAS28) at the start of the study and one year later. At the beginning of the study, patients were 'sorted' by their DAS28 scores into remission, low, moderate and high disease activity. A large number of patients had very low disease activity at the study start, and more than half them had RA that got worse over one year even though they were treated with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). The researchers feel that more aggressive treatment should be used in early, even mild inflammatory arthritis.

Read more

What was the purpose of the study?
The CATCH researchers wanted to see how patients with early arthritis (EIA) did over time by watching their disease course, prognosis and treatment.

How was the study done?
Patients in CATCH were treated with DMARDs by their rheumatologist with the aim of helping the patients reach remission. Patients saw their rheumatologists at baseline (study start), every 3 months for the first year and every 6 months after that. Patients were part of study if they had DAS28 scores at the study start and at one year, and were 'sorted' based on their DAS scores at the study start into remission, low, moderate and high disease activity.

What were the results of the study?
187 patients were in this study and at the study start, 43% had high disease activity, 30% had moderate disease activity, 8% had low disease activity, and 19% were in remission. Patients with low, moderate and high disease activity improved over time and patients who were in remission at the start usually saw their disease activity increase with time. At one year, of the 36 patients who started in remission, 42% were still in remission at one year, and 28% had low disease activity, 22% had moderate disease activity, and 8% had high disease activity. Almost all patients started DMARD treatment at their first rheumatologist visit, but only 88% of patients who were in remission at the study start received at least one DMARD after their first visit.

Of these patients, a large number had very low disease activity at the start of the study. More than half of them had RA that progressed within one year even though they were on DMARDs, so the CATCH researchers suggest that aggressive treatment should be undertaken even in early, mild inflammatory arthritis.