Physical examination and laboratory tests in the management of patients with rheumatoid arthritis: development of recommendations for clinical practice based on published evidence and expert opinion

Joint Bone Spine. 2005 May;72(3):222-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2004.10.010.


Objectives: To develop recommendations for the physical and laboratory-test follow-up of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) seen in everyday practice, using evidence from the literature, supplemented with expert opinion when needed.

Methods: A scientific committee selected 7-10 questions using the Delphi consensus procedure. Evidence-based responses to each question were sought in the literature and were then used by a panel to develop recommendations. To fill in gaps in knowledge from the literature, the panelists relied on their personal opinion.

Results: The seven questions dealt with the physical and laboratory-test follow-up of RA and the factors predicting disease severity. The literature review identified 799 articles whose title and abstract suggested relevance to the study. Elimination of articles that provided no data on the study topic left 128 original articles. The panel developed seven recommendations, one for each question, which were accepted by consensus.

Conclusion: Recommendations about the physical and laboratory-test follow-up of patients with RA seen in everyday practice were developed. Because they constitute an objective foundation built by consensus among experts, should improve the uniformity and quality of care provided to RA patients in everyday practice.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / therapy
  • Clinical Chemistry Tests*
  • Consensus
  • Health Planning Guidelines*
  • Humans
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Physical Examination / standards
  • Rheumatology / methods*
  • Rheumatology / standards