Background: Recently, an American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) collaboration developed new classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Objective: To evaluate the diagnostic and discriminative ability of these new criteria compared with the 1987 ACR criteria and the Visser decision rule.
Methods: 455 patients with early arthritis were studied. The diagnostic performance of the criteria was evaluated using methotrexate treatment within 1 year, expert opinion RA and erosive disease as 'gold standards'. Erosive disease was defined as a 0-3 year change in radiographic score of ≥5.
Results: The discriminative ability of the three criteria sets (2010 ACR/EULAR, 1987 ACR criteria and Visser algorithm) was similar with areas under the curve of 0.71-0.78 ('gold standard' methotrexate), 0.74-0.80 (gold standard expert opinion RA) and 0.63-0.67 (gold standard erosive disease after 3 years). The sensitivity of the 2010 ACR/EULAR criteria was highest with 0.85 (gold standard methotrexate). 86% of patients with RA and 51% of 'non-RA' patients according to the new criteria used methotrexate.
Conclusion: The 2010 ACR/EULAR criteria were slightly more sensitive, but otherwise performed similarly to the older criteria. A high percentage of 'non-RA' patients used methotrexate, the gold standard for RA. The ability of the new criteria to identify patients with erosive disease was low, possibly owing to the effect of intensive treatment.