Use of biologic therapy in racial minorities with rheumatoid arthritis from 2 US health care systems

Gail S. Kerr, Christopher Swearingen, Ted R. Mikuls, Yusuf Yazici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: In the United States, there is racial/ethnic disparity in the care of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), yet there are limited data regarding the impact of varied health care systems on treatment outcomes. Objective: The aim fo this study was to compare the frequencies of use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologic agents in racialminorities with RA in a single-payer and variable-access health systems. Methods: Rheumatoid arthritis disease status was examined in the Ethnic Minority Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium (EMRAC) and Veterans Affairs Rheumatoid Arthritis Registry (VARA); frequencies of prednisone and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologic agent use at enrollment were documented. Comparisons in frequencies of RA therapies between RA cohorts and white and nonwhite racial subsets were evaluated. Results: The combined cohorts provided 2899 subjects for analysis (EMRAC = 943, VARA = 1956). Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 and Disease Activity Score in 28 Joints scores were equivalent (cohort, racial subsets), as was biologic agent use (26% vs. 28%) between whites and nonwhites. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug use was greater in EMRAC nonwhites compared with their white counterparts, but similar to all VARA patients (33% vs. 22% [P < 0.001], 36%, 39%, respectively). However, biologic agent use was significantly greater in EMRAC versus VARA patients (37% vs. 22%, P < 0.001). In VARA patients, there was no difference in biologic agent use among racial subsets (22% vs. 21%). In EMRAC patients, biologic agent use was greater in whites than in nonwhites (EMRAC white 45% vs. EMRAC nonwhite 33%, P < 0.001; odds ratio, 1.66) and compared with all VARA subjects (EMRAC white 45% vs. all VARA 22%, P < 0.001; odds ratio, 2.91). Younger age, advanced education, longstanding disease, and severe disease were associated with biologic agent use. Conclusions: When compared with more variable-access systems, a VA system of care that includes a single-payer insurancemay afford equality in use of biologic agents among different racial subsets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-18
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Rheumatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • Biologic therapy
  • Racial disparity
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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