Background: The aim was to characterise the sociodemographic, general health and polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)-specific features of participants in a large inception cohort of patients with PMR diagnosed in UK primary care. Methods: Patients (n = 739) with a new diagnosis of PMR were referred into the study and mailed a questionnaire detailing their general health and sociodemographic characteristics in addition to the symptoms of and treatment for PMR. Characteristics of responders and non-responders were compared and descriptive statistics were used to characterise the health of the cohort. Results: A total of 654 individuals responded to the questionnaire (adjusted response 90.1 %). Responders and non-responders were similar in age, gender and deprivation (based on postcode). The mean (standard deviation) age of the recruited cohort was 72.4 (9.3) years; 62.2 % were female. The sample reported high levels of pain and stiffness (8 out of 10 on numerical rating scales) and reported stiffness that lasted throughout the day. High levels of functional impairment, fatigue, insomnia and polypharmacy were also reported. Overall, women reported worse general and PMR-specific health than did men. Conclusions: This first primary care cohort of patients with incident PMR is similar in demographic terms to cohorts recruited in secondary care. However, the extent of symptoms, particularly reported stiffness, is higher than has been described previously. Given the majority of patients with PMR are exclusively managed in primary care, this cohort provides important information on the course of PMR in the community that will help clinicians managing this painful and disabling condition.
- Disease activity
- Polymyalgia rheumatica