Objective: To evaluate agreement between a rheumatologist visit and a telephone interview by a patient organization member, regarding the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or spondyloarthropathy (SpA) and the classification criteria for these two conditions.
Method: Patients underwent a standardized interview and physical examination by hospital-based rheumatologists, who diagnosed RA in 230 cases, SpA in 175, and other conditions (controls) in 195. Members of patient organizations then used a standardized questionnaire to interview the patients by telephone about their diagnosis and about 1987 ACR classification criteria for RA and the ESSG criteria for SpA.
Results: Agreement between the two sources of data was poor for the classification criteria but satisfactory for the diagnosis (kappa, 0.84 (0.81-0.87) for RA and 0.78 (0.75-0.81) for SpA).
Conclusion: Standardized telephone interviews conducted by patient organization members accurately identify the diagnosis made by rheumatologists based on a physical examination and medical record review, whereas agreement is poor regarding classification criteria for RA and SpA.