Diagnostic and therapeutic delay of rheumatoid arthritis and its relationship with health care devices in Catalonia. The AUDIT study

Reumatol Clin. May-Jun 2016;12(3):146-50. doi: 10.1016/j.reuma.2015.08.002. Epub 2015 Sep 8.
[Article in En, Spanish]


Objective: Diagnosis and therapy of patients with early onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is influenced by accessibility to specialized care devices. We attempted to analyze the impact of their availability.

Methods: We analyzed time related to diagnosis delay measuring: 1) Time from first clinical symptoms to the first visit with the Rheumatologist; 2) Time from referral to the first visit of Rheumatology; 3) Time between first symptom until final diagnosis; 4) time between first symptom until the initiation of the first disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD). The presence of these 6 rheumatology devices was defined: 1) early arthritis monographic clinics, 2) RA monographic clinics, 3) Mechanisms for fast programming, 4) Algorithms for referral from primary care (PC), 5) rheumatology consultation services in PC and 6) consulting services in PC.

Results: The mean time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis or the establishment of a DMARD in RA patients in Catalonia is very long (11 months). Patients seen in rheumatology devices such as RA monographic clinics, rheumatology consultation in PC and specially in early arthritis clinics are treated early with DMARDs.

Conclusion: the existence of monographic clinics or consulting in primary care centers is essential to improve early care of RA patients.

Keywords: AUDIT study; Artritis reumatoide de inicio reciente; Dispositivos de asistenciales especializados; Early onset rheumatoid arthritis; Estudio AUDIT; Health care devices.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delayed Diagnosis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Spain
  • Time Factors


  • Antirheumatic Agents