Objective: To evaluate the validity and reliability of the polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) activity score (PMR-AS) for relapse diagnosis by general practitioners (GPs) who manage a large proportion of patients with PMR.
Methods: Seven clinical vignettes of PMR were used, for which 35 rheumatologists previously made a diagnosis of relapse or no relapse with greater than 80% agreement. These vignettes were submitted to 163 GPs, who were asked to assess disease activity using a visual analogue scale (VASph), this being the only physician-dependent component of the PMR-AS. The 1116 available vignette–GP combinations were used to assess differences in VASph assessed by GPs versus rheumatologists. Statistical associations linking a relapse diagnosis by the rheumatologists (the reference standard) to the value of the GP-assessed PMR-AS or its components (GP-assessed VASph, visual analogue scale pain score, C-reactive protein, morning stiffness and elevation of upper limbs) were evaluated.
Results: No significant differences were found between VASph scores by GPs versus rheumatologists for any of the vignettes. A relapse diagnosis was strongly associated with PMR-AS values of 7 or more (sensitivity 99.4%; specificity 93.3%; agreement 95.9% (95% CI 94.5% to 97.0%) with κ = 0.92). Of the 590 GP–vignette combinations with PMR-AS values lower than 7, all but three (0.5%) had no relapse diagnosis. Of 510 combinations with PMR-AS values of 7 or more, only 42 (8%) had no flare diagnosis.
Conclusions: This study supports the validity of the PMR-AS in primary care practice and provides evidence that a good scoring system can be useful to guide clinical and therapeutic decisions.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Competing interests: None.
Contributors: Study design: AB, MDB, AS. Acquisition of data: BL, AB, MDB, J-MB, AS. Analysis and interpretation of data: AB, BL, AS. Manuscript preparation: AB, BL, MDB, J-MB, AS. Statistical analysis: AB, BL, AS. Club “Rhumatismes et Inflammation”: Inflammatory Joint Disease Working Group of the French Society for Rheumatology.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.