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Centre effects and case-mix in early rheumatoid arthritis observational cohorts: a narrative review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1991-1999
Number of pages9
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2019

King's Authors


Objectives Observational cohort studies in early RA are a key source of evidence, despite inconsistencies in methodological approaches. This narrative review assesses the spectrum of methodologies used in addressing centre-level effect and case-mix adjustment in early RA observational cohort studies. Methods An electronic search was undertaken to identify observational prospective cohorts of >100 patients recruited from two or more centres, within 2 years of an RA or early inflammatory arthritis diagnosis. References and author publication lists of all studies from eligible cohorts were assessed for additional cohorts. Results Thirty-four unique cohorts were identified from 204 studies. Seven percent of studies considered centre in their analyses, most commonly as a fixed effect in regression modelling. Reporting of case-mix variables in analyses varied widely. The number of variables considered in case-mix adjustment was higher following publication of the STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement in 2007. Conclusion Centre effect is unreported or inadequately accounted for in the majority of RA observational cohorts, potentially leading to spurious inferences and obstructing comparisons between studies. Inadequate case-mix adjustment precludes meaningful comparisons between centres. Appropriate methodology to account for centre and case-mix adjustment should be considered at the outset of analyses.

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