Skip to main content

28-06-2018 | Rheumatoid arthritis | Article

The REAL study: a nationwide prospective study of rheumatoid arthritis in Brazil

Advances in Rheumatology

Authors: Geraldo da Rocha Castelar-Pinheiro, Ana Beatriz Vargas-Santos, Cleandro Pires de Albuquerque, Manoel Barros Bértolo, Paulo Louzada Júnior, Rina Dalva Neubarth Giorgi, Sebastião Cezar Radominski, Maria Fernanda B. Resende Guimarães, Karina Rossi Bonfiglioli, Maria de Fátima Lobato da Cunha Sauma, Ivânio Alves Pereira, Claiton Viegas Brenol, Evandro Silva Freire Coutinho, Licia Maria Henrique da Mota

Publisher: BioMed Central



There are few data on the epidemiology, clinical manifestations and management of RA in Brazil, even with the recognition of the high direct, indirect and societal costs of this disease. Herein, we report the formation of the REAL - Rheumatoid Arthritis in Real Life, the first nationally representative multicenter prospective observational study in Brazil.


The REAL study was designed to include a total of 1300 evaluable patients from 13 tertiary care public health centers specialized in RA management and representative of 5 regions of Brazil. Each center was expected to enroll ~ 100 consecutively seen patients and follow them prospectively in a systematic protocol-driven fashion with scheduled visits at baseline, 6 and 12 months. Core clinical, laboratory and patient-reported outcomes measures were required to be collected at each visit.


A total of 1115 patients (89.4% female, mean age of 56.7 years and median disease duration of 12.7 years) were enrolled from 11 participating centers. Almost 80% of patients were of middle-low or low socioeconomic classes. The median educational time was 8 years, with 3.23% being below literacy level. The interval between symptoms and diagnosis varied from 1 to 457 months (median 12 months). Almost half of the patients were on glucocorticoids, 96.5% on DMARDs, with 35.7% on biologics. Median HAQ-DI was 0.875, ranging from 0 to 3. Median DAS28-ESR was 3.5, with 58.7% of patients presenting moderate or high disease activity.


The first large cohort of Brazilian patients with RA in a real-life setting shows several striking differences from previously published cohorts from other countries. The long delay for diagnosis and start of DMARDs may partly explain the high frequency of erosive disease. An elevated percentage of patients on moderate or high disease activity was seen, despite of the high frequency of corticosteroid and biologics utilization. Data from this cohort may enable public health managers of developing countries better allocate the limited resources available for the care of RA patients.

Please log in to get access to this content

Related topics