This article requires a subscription to view the full text. If you have a subscription you may use the login form below to view the article. Access to this article can also be purchased.
OBJECTIVE: To examine whether self-assessment of tender and swollen joints by patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be used to evaluate changes in disease activity instead of joint counts by physicians. METHODS: Eighty-two patients with RA taking part in controlled studies were recruited for investigation. The patient's self-assessment of joint tenderness and swelling was completed both before and 30 minutes after examination by a physician. Examinations of tender and swollen joints by a rheumatologist were performed at baseline and 3 months later. The correlations and verification of agreement of these clinical assessments were analyzed. RESULTS: Within-patient and patient-physician correlations for joint tenderness counts were high (r = 0.96 and 0.78, respectively). Patient-physician correlation for joint swelling counts was still significant, although much lower (r = 0.34). Patients' and physicians' estimations of the change in disease activity over 3 months did not differ (p > 0.76 for all comparisons). CONCLUSION: Joint tenderness counts were consistent when comparing intra-patient and patient-physician assessments, while joint swelling counts were poorly correlated. Patient and physician assessments of change over 3 months were parallel and similar for joint tenderness count. Self-administered tender joint counts might be a useful tool to evaluate the response to therapy in RA.