Study objective: To assess whether scores on a simple self-report questionnaire to depict the clinical status of patients with rheumatoid arthritis are correlated with traditional measures of physical, radiographic, laboratory, functional, and global status.
Design: The self-report questionnaire was administered at the same time the following variables were assessed: American Rheumatism Association functional class, joint count, hand radiograph, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, rheumatoid factor titer, walking time, grip strength, button test, and global self-assessment.
Setting: University rheumatology clinic, the rheumatology clinic of a Veterans Administration hospital, and a private rheumatology practice.
Patients: The study included 259 patients who met the criteria of the American Rheumatism Association for a diagnosis of definite or classic rheumatoid arthritis.
Interventions: Standard rheumatologic care for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Measurements and main results: Self-report questionnaire scores were significantly correlated with the joint count, radiographic score, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, grip strength, button test, walking time, American Rheumatism Association functional class, and global self-assessment. Patients were categorized into five questionnaire score categories of 1.00, indicating no dysfunction, and 1.01 to 1.50, 1.51 to 2.00, 2.01 to 3.00, and 3.01 to 4.00, indicating progressive dysfunction. In these five categories, more than ten involved joints were seen in 11%, 37%, 67%, 79%, and 100% of patients, respectively, and erythrocyte sedimentation rates greater than 20 mm/h in 29%, 49%, 64%, 74%, and 85% of patients, respectively. Similar results were seen for other physical and radiographic measures. The questionnaire score was as effective in explaining other measures of clinical status as was any other available measure.
Conclusions: A simple self-report questionnaire provides information similar to many traditional measures in rheumatoid arthritis and appears to be an attractive, cost-effective approach to assessing and monitoring quantitatively the status of an individual patient.