Introduction: The purpose of this study was to explore a data set of patients with fibromyalgia (FM), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who completed the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) and its variant, the Symptom Impact Questionnaire (SIQR), for discriminating features that could be used to differentiate FM from RA and SLE in clinical surveys.
Methods: The frequency and means of comparing FM, RA and SLE patients on all pain sites and SIQR variables were calculated. Multiple regression analysis was then conducted to identify the significant pain sites and SIQR predictors of group membership. Thereafter stepwise multiple regression analysis was performed to identify the order of variables in predicting their maximal statistical contribution to group membership. Partial correlations assessed their unique contribution, and, last, two-group discriminant analysis provided a classification table.
Results: The data set contained information on the SIQR and also pain locations in 202 FM, 31 RA and 20 SLE patients. As the SIQR and pain locations did not differ much between the RA and SLE patients, they were grouped together (RA/SLE) to provide a more robust analysis. The combination of eight SIQR items and seven pain sites correctly classified 99% of FM and 90% of RA/SLE patients in a two-group discriminant analysis. The largest reported SIQR differences (FM minus RA/SLE) were seen for the parameters "tenderness to touch," "difficulty cleaning floors" and "discomfort on sitting for 45 minutes." Combining the SIQR and pain locations in a stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that the seven most important predictors of group membership were mid-lower back pain (29%; 79% vs. 16%), tenderness to touch (11.5%; 6.86 vs. 3.02), neck pain (6.8%; 91% vs. 39%), hand pain (5%; 64% vs. 77%), arm pain (3%; 69% vs. 18%), outer lower back pain (1.7%; 80% vs. 22%) and sitting for 45 minutes (1.4%; 5.56 vs. 1.49).
Conclusions: A combination of two SIQR questions ("tenderness to touch" and "difficulty sitting for 45 minutes") plus pain in the lower back, neck, hands and arms may be useful in the construction of clinical questionnaires designed for patients with musculoskeletal pain. This combination provided the correct diagnosis in 97% of patients, with only 7 of 253 patients misclassified.