What matters most to pediatric rheumatologists in deciding whether to discontinue biologics in a child with juvenile idiopathic arthritis? A best-worst scaling survey

Gillian R Currie, Catherina G M Groothuis-Oudshoorn, Marinka Twilt, Michelle M A Kip, Maarten J IJzerman, Susanne M Benseler, Joost F Swart, Sebastiaan J Vastert, Nico M Wulffraat, Rae Yeung, Deborah A Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Care for JIA patients has been transformed in the biologics era; however, biologics carry important (although rare) risks and are costly. Flares after biological withdrawal are seen frequently, yet there is little clinical guidance to identify which patients in clinical remission can safely have their biologic discontinued (by stopping or tapering). We examined what characteristics of the child or their context are important to pediatric rheumatologists when making the decision to discuss withdrawal of biologics.

METHODS: We conducted a survey including a best-worst scaling (BWS) exercise in pediatric rheumatologists who are part of the UCAN CAN-DU network to assess the relative importance of 14 previously identified characteristics. A balanced incomplete block design was used to generate choice tasks. Respondents evaluated 14 choice sets of 5 characteristics of a child with JIA and identified for each set which was the most and least important in the decision to offer withdrawal. Results were analyzed using conditional logit regression.

RESULTS: Fifty-one (out of 79) pediatric rheumatologists participated (response rate 65%). The three most important characteristics were how challenging it was to achieve remission, history of established joint damage, and time spent in remission. The three least important characteristics were history of temporomandibular joint involvement, accessibility of biologics, and the patient's age.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings give quantitative insight about factors important to pediatric rheumatologists' decision-making about biologic withdrawal. In addition to high quality clinical evidence, further research is needed to understand the perspective of patients and families to inform shared decision-making about biologic withdrawal for JIA patients with clinically inactive disease. Key Points ● What is already known on this topic-there is limited clinical guidance for pediatric rheumatologists in making decisions about biologic withdrawal for patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis who are in clinical remission. ● What this study adds-this study quantitatively examined what characteristic of the child in clinical remission, or of their context, are most important to pediatric rheumatologists in deciding whether to offer withdrawal of biologics. ● How this study might affect research, practice or policy-understanding of these characteristics can provide useful information to other pediatric rheumatologists in making their decisions, and may guide areas to focus on for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2173-2180
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number8
Early online date19 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • Arthritis, Juvenile
  • Biological therapy
  • Economics


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