Objectives: To document biopsychosocial profiles of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by means of the INTERMED and to correlate the results with conventional methods of disease assessment and health care utilization.
Methods: Patients with RA (n = 75) were evaluated with the INTERMED, an instrument for assessing case complexity and care needs. Based on their INTERMED scores, patients were compared with regard to severity of illness, functional status, and health care utilization.
Results: In cluster analysis, a 2-cluster solution emerged, with about half of the patients characterized as complex. Complex patients scoring especially high in the psychosocial domain of the INTERMED were disabled significantly more often and took more psychotropic drugs. Although the 2 patient groups did not differ in severity of illness and functional status, complex patients rated their illness as more severe on subjective measures and on most items of the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36. Complex patients showed increased health care utilization despite a similar biologic profile.
Conclusions: The INTERMED identified complex patients with increased health care utilization, provided meaningful and comprehensive patient information, and proved to be easy to implement and advantageous compared with conventional methods of disease assessment. Intervention studies will have to demonstrate whether management strategies based on INTERMED profiles can improve treatment response and outcome of complex patients.