Objective: To develop and evaluate a Grip Ability Test (GAT) for clinical evaluation of hand function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by modifying a general test for hand function based entirely on activities of daily living, the Grip Function Test (GFT).
Methods: The GAT items were selected from those in the GFT that were sensitive to change in a hand training program of patients with RA. Based on a multivariate analysis, 3 items were chosen with an optimal representation of different grip types.
Results: The reliability was high: intraobserver test r = 0.985, p < 0.001; interobserver test r = 0.948, p < 0.001; internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha) 0.65. All items discriminated (p < 0.001) between patients with RA and healthy controls. The sensitivity to change in a hand training program in 24 patients with RA was significant for the total GAT (p < 0.001), as well as for the 3 items separately (p < 0.01, 0.01, and 0.05, respectively).
Conclusion: The GAT for patients with RA was reliable, valid, and sensitive to change. It does not require sophisticated equipment and takes 5 min to perform.