Objectives: To investigate whether meticulously following a treat-to-target (T2T)-strategy in daily clinical practice will lead to less radiographic progression in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who start (new) DMARD-therapy. Methods: Patients with RA from 10 countries starting/changing conventional synthetic or biologic DMARDs because of active RA, and in whom treatment intensification according to the T2T principle was pursued, were assessed for disease activity every 3 months for 2 years (RA-BIODAM cohort). The primary outcome was the change in Sharp-van der Heijde (SvdH) score, assessed every 6 months. Per 3-month interval DAS44-T2T could be followed zero, one or two times (in a total of 2 visits). The relation between T2T intensity and change in SvdH-score was modelled by generalised estimating equations. Results: In total, 511 patients were included (mean (SD) age: 56 (13) years; 76% female). Mean 2-year SvdH progression was 2.2 (4.1) units (median : 1 unit). A stricter application of T2T in a 3-month interval did not reduce progression in the same 6-month interval (parameter estimates (for yes vs no): +0.15 units (95%CI: -0.04-0.33) for 2 vs 0 visits; and +0.08 units (-0.06; 0.22) for 1 vs 0 visits) nor did it reduce progression in the subsequent 6-month interval. Conclusions: In this daily practice cohort, following T2T principles more meticulously did not result in less radiographic progression than a somewhat more lenient attitude toward T2T. One possible interpretation of these results is that the intention to apply T2T already suffices and that a more stringent approach does not further improve outcome.
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