Treatment with biological disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is popular. The aim of this study was to investigate changes in the quality of life (QoL) in patients after receiving, tapering, or stopping bDMARD treatment. Three hundred and thirty patients with RA and 120 patients with AS were enrolled. Data on the patients receiving bDMARDs were obtained by self-completed questionnaires including the short-form 36 (SF-36) and Global Quality of Life (GQL) scale. A relapse was defined as the QoL becoming worse than that before bDMARD treatment. Significant improvement in all domains of the SF-36 and GQL was noted in the patients after receiving bDMARDs. Improvement in SF-36 was significantly greater in RA patients with a shorter disease duration (< 6 years) and milder patient-assessed disease activity and in AS patients with a shorter disease duration and younger age. There were significant decreases in all domains of the SF-36 and GQL in both groups after reducing/discontinuing bDMARD treatment. The patients in both groups with a shorter period of bDMARD treatment (≤ 3 years) had significantly worse SF-36 scores compared to those with a longer period of bDMARD treatment (> 3 years). The relapse rate after reducing/discontinuing treatment was over 90.0% in the RA patients and over 50.0% in the AS patients within 12 months. bDMARDs significantly improved the QoL of the patients with RA and AS. However, interrupting or stopping the treatment protocol worsened the QoL and led to relapses, especially in the patients who used bDMARDs for a shorter period.
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