Objectives: To establish a questionnaire to quantify the extent of the function and activities of the hand in patients with degenerative or inflammatory disease of the hand and finger joints.
Methods: One hundred and seventy-two patients with osteoarthritis (OA, n = 69) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA, n = 103) completed a new questionnaire, the SACRAH, that included 23 visual analogue scales covering the extent of hand function, stiffness and level of pain. SACRAH scores may range from 0 to 100.
Results: Comparing all studied patients, there was no significant difference in SACRAH scores between OA and RA patients (34 vs 32, not significant). Scores for both patient groups differed significantly from those for 30 healthy controls. Among patients taking NSAIDs only, individuals suffering from OA (n = 50) scored significantly lower than RA patients (n = 42) (36 vs 48, P < 0.004). Sixty-one RA patients taking DMARDs scored lower than the RA patient group treated with NSAIDs only (20 vs 48, P < 0.0001). Thirty-two RA patients were evaluated longitudinally at their first visit and 3 months after the initiation of DMARDs. Following therapy, SACRAH scores were significantly reduced from 50 to 11 (P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: The questionnaire enables the quantification of compromised hand function, stiffness and pain in OA and RA patients, and is sensitive to therapy-related changes in RA patients.