Six clinical assessments of disease activity, including a new summated change scale (SCS), have been compared in a group of 30 patients with rheumatoid arthritis seen on 8 separate occasions during their first 6 months of therapy with either D-penicillamine or hydroxychloroquine. Articular index and grip strength correlate best with erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein, pain score and early morning stiffness less well, and summated change score and joint circumference least well. Articular index and grip strength also correlated well with the other clinical parameters and are therefore judged to be the best clinical indices of change in treatment with these drugs.
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