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Performance of the 2010 ACR/EULAR classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic literature review


Background The 2010 ACR/EULAR classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were developed to improve the identification of individuals for studies of RA. We aimed to summarise the performance of the criteria based on the published literature.

Methods We performed a systematic literature search to identify all studies investigating the 2010 criteria and reporting data allowing to calculate sensitivity (SENS), specificity (SPEC), and positive and negative predictive values. Where possible, meta-analysis was performed.

Results Seventeen full articles (total 6816 patients) and 17 meeting abstracts (total 4004 patients) fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Pooled sensitivity and specificity for RA (defined by different reference standards) were 0.82 (95% CI 0.79–0.84) and 0.61 (0.59–0.64). Results were comparable for different reference standards: for initiation of methotrexate pooled sensitivity was 0.85 (0.83–0.86) and specificity was 0.52 (0.49–0.54); for initiation of any disease modifying antirheumatic drug they were 0.80 (0.79–0.82) and 0.65 (0.61–0.68), respectively; and for expert opinion 0.88 (0.86–0.90) and 0.48 (0.35–0.52). No differences were observed for use of different types of joint counts. Eight studies and five meeting abstracts directly compared 1987 and 2010 criteria using different reference standards within different target populations showing higher overall sensitivity (+0.11 compared with 1987 criteria) at the cost of lower overall specificity (–0.04).

Conclusions Two years after their publication, the 2010 ACR/EULAR criteria have been widely tested in the community. They are sensitive to detect cases of RA among various target populations, independent of how the latter is referenced.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Early Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Epidemiology

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