A proposed 30-45 minute 4 page standard protocol to evaluate rheumatoid arthritis (SPERA) that includes measures of inflammatory activity, joint damage, and longterm outcomes

J Rheumatol. 1999 Feb;26(2):473-80.


A proposed 4 page, 30-45 minute standard protocol to assess rheumatoid arthritis (SPERA) is described that includes all relevant measures of inflammatory activity such as joint swelling, measures of joint damage such as joint deformity, and outcomes such as joint replacement surgery, to monitor patients in longterm observational studies. Forms are included: (1) a patient self-report modified health assessment questionnaire (MHAQ) to assess function, pain, fatigue, psychological distress, symptoms, and drugs used; (2) assessor-completed forms: "RA clinical features" --criteria for RA, functional class, family history, extraarticular disease, comorbidities, joint surgery, radiographic score, and laboratory findings. (3) A 32 joint count with 5 variables: (a) a "shorthand" normal/abnormal so that normal joints require no further detailed assessment; (b) tenderness or pain on motion; (c) swelling; (d) limited motion or deformity; (e) previous surgeries; physical measures of function, i.e., grip strength, walk time, and button test. (4) Medication review of previous disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD), work history, and years of education. The forms allow cost effective acquisition of all relevant measures of activity, damage, and outcomes in routine clinical care, and allow recognition that measures of activity may show similar or improved values over 5-10 years, while measures of damage and outcomes indicate severe progression in the same patients. The SPERA is feasible to acquire most known relevant measures of activity, damage, and outcomes in RA in 30-45 min in usual clinical settings, to provide a complete database for analyses of longterm outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Clinical Protocols / standards*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diagnosis*
  • Joints / pathology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Research / standards
  • Research Design
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time