Physicians and researchers can measure patients' diagnoses and treatment successes or failures by evaluating patient outcomes. A special issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) describes one set of measuring tools that is based on evaluating adult pain providing physicians and researchers with a single resource of 250 patient outcomes measurements in rheumatology.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 150 rheumatic or musculoskeletal diseases can contribute to pain and disability in adults. About 1% of the global population is affected by rheumatoid arthritis, a painful autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints. WHO reports that worldwide osteoarthritis affects almost 10% of men and 18% of women over the age of 60 years.
Osteoarthritis is characterized by pain, stiffness and reduced movement of the affected joints and is most common in the joints of the hands, feet, spine and the large weight bearing joints, such as hips and knees. Caused by failed repair of injury from various joint stresses, it can result in a total degradation of the joint leading to disability.
Dr. Gillian Hawker, a rheumatologist and clinical epidemiologist at the University of Toronto in Canada explains:
"Pain is the most significant complaint of patients with rheumatic conditions. Thus, assessment of pain, including its intensity, frequency and impact on the patient's physical function, sleep, mood and overall quality of life is integral to good care.
Our overview of available pain questionnaires provides both clinicians and researchers with a quick reference for comparing and selecting the most appropriate assessment tool for their purpose."
The review of each questionnaire includes details regarding its content, ease of use as well as measurement properties.
The authors present a review of the generic single- and multi-dimensional pain assessment tools. They include various scales, including the Numeric Rating Scale, Short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire, Chronic Pain Grade Scale, Short Form-36 Bodily Pain Scale and Visual Analog Scale. Also included are the Measure of Intermittent and Constant Osteoarthritis Pain, which is a fairly new questionnaire on osteoarthritis-specific pain, developed to assess pain patterns and impact, particularly the impact of pain on physical function. It also allows clinicians and researchers to discuss the strengths and weakness of each questionnaire.
The special issue of Arthritis Care & Research Along also contains Dr. Hawker's review of "Measures in Adult Pain", which are assessment tools to measure patient outcomes regarding sleep, fatigue, physical function and depression.
Guest Editor of the Arthritis Care & Research special issue, "Patient Outcomes in Rheumatology, 2011" Dr. Patricia Katz from the University of California said:
"In this issue, we update and expand the number of patient outcomes measures originally published in 2003 to include more than 250 measures - twice as many as previously covered. This single-source reference provides rheumatologists and researchers with a valuable, up-to-date resource for evaluating current patient assessment tools."
Written by Petra Rattue