Korean J Intern Med.  2019 Jul;34(4):910-916. 10.3904/kjim.2017.113.

Factors associated with time to diagnosis from symptom onset in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis

  • 1Department of Rheumatology, Hanyang University Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Seoul, Korea. sungyk@hanyang.ac.kr, scbae@hanyang.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Rheumatology, Clinical Research Center for Rheumatoid Arthritis (CRCRA), Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Rheumatology, Catholic University of Daegu School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea.
  • 4Department of Rheumatology, Kyung Hee University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
  • 5Department of Rheumatology, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 6Department of Rheumatology, Hanyang University Guri Hospital, Guri, Korea.
  • 7Department of Rheumatology, Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
  • 8Department of Rheumatology, Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital, Goyang, Korea.


To identify the factors associated with time to diagnosis after symptom onset in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Early RA patients with ≤ 1 year of disease duration in the KORean Observational study Network for Arthritis (KORONA) database were included in this analysis. Patients were further divided into two groups according to the time to diagnosis from symptom onset: the early diagnosis group (time to diagnosis ≤ 1 year) and the late diagnosis group (time to diagnosis > 1 year). Using the multivariable regression model, we identified factors associated with early diagnosis.
Among 714 early RA patients, 401 patients (56.2%) and 313 patients (43.8%) were included in the early diagnosis and late diagnosis groups, respectively. The mean disease duration was 0.47 years in the early diagnosis group and 0.45 years in the late diagnosis group. In multivariable model analysis, greater age at onset (odds ratio [OR], 1.03; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02 to 1.05), high school education or higher (OR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.14 to 2.47), higher income (OR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.05 to 2.08), and initial small joint involvement (OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.98) were factors associated with early diagnosis. At diagnosis, disease activity scores using 28 joints on diagnosis (3.81 ± 1.44 vs. 3.82 ± 1.42, p = 0.92) and functional disability (0.65 ± 0.61 vs. 0.57 ± 0.62, p = 0.07) did not different between the two groups. However, hand joint erosion on X-ray (37.8% vs. 25.6%, p < 0.01) was more common in the late diagnosis group than the early diagnosis group.
Older onset age, higher educational level and income, and initial small joint involvement were positive factors for early diagnosis of RA.


Early diagnosis; Arthritis, rheumatoid

MeSH Terms

Age of Onset
Arthritis, Rheumatoid*
Delayed Diagnosis
Early Diagnosis
Observational Study
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