Date: Monday, November 6, 2017
Session Type: ACR Poster Session B
Session Time: 9:00AM-11:00AM
Background/Purpose: Assessments of disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) determine the course of treatment. Physician global assessments of disease activity (MD globals) are important outcomes in trials as they are part of the CDAI (Clinical Disease Activity Index) and SDAI (Simple Disease Activity Index) composite scores. MD globals may vary between physicians based on their age, sex, practice setting, experience (number of patients seen per year), and years in practice. Our research goal was to determine which factors contribute to the variability of MD globals. We expected assessments to be lower as physician experience increased (i.e. once you have been in practice a long time, you have seen the worst, so this would reset the global assessments for less active patients to a lower value relative to less experienced rheumatologists).
Methods: After obtaining ethics approval, we surveyed rheumatologists who were members of the Canadian Rheumatology Association with RA patient scenarios where each was rated as a MD global for disease activity from 0 – 10. The cases covered a range of disease activity; to determine extreme cases and cases in between. There were some scenarios where a change in status was given (i.e. a rating with one disease state and then the patient returned and another rating was given by each participant when the patient was obviously better or worse). Means, t tests, and correlations were used to analyze the responses.
Results: We received 145 responses from eligible physicians spanning the above categories (approximately 40% response rate). Contrary to our original hypothesis, MD global assessments were not significantly different between physicians in any category (number of RA patients seen per year, years of experience, age, sex, type of practice [community vs. university], and self-reported expertise in RA). Moreover, the range of answers for the same scenario was as high as 7.6 out of a possible 10, indicating vast discrepancies between physicians. We checked to ensure the questions were not answered backwards by individuals using the scenarios where a patient changed disease activity over time. The agreement was highest in the extreme scenarios (very low and very high disease activity, but in the spectrum in between agreement was extremely poor). Some scenarios outlined changes in individual patients, however physicians surveyed were often in disagreement as to how well the patient recovered or worsened. The change in MD globals between one time and the next in the cases had better agreement than the actual scores (i.e. most agreed that a patient had worsened or improved).
Conclusion: This research emphasizes the need to establish stringent evaluation criteria of disease activity as rated by the physician in RA; particularly if remission and low disease activity is used clinically by CDAI or SDAI. Perhaps a catalogue examples of patient scenarios of MD globals that range from 0 to 10 should be developed, standardized and agreed upon; to decrease the wide variability of ranking by rheumatologists.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Turk M, Pope JE. Physician Global Assessments for Disease Activity in Rheumatoid Arthritis Are All over the Map! [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2017; 69 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/physician-global-assessments-for-disease-activity-in-rheumatoid-arthritis-are-all-over-the-map/. Accessed January 23, 2022.
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