To describe disease expression and damage accrual in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and determine the influence of ethnicity and socioeconomic factors on damage accrual in a large multiethnic Canadian cohort.
Adults with SLE were enrolled in a multicenter cohort. Data on sociodemographic factors, diagnostic criteria, disease activity, autoantibodies, treatment, and damage were collected using standardized tools, and results were compared across ethnic groups. We analyzed baseline data, testing for differences in sociodemographic and clinical factors, between the different ethnic groups, in univariate analyses; significant variables from univariate analyses were included in multivariate regression models examining for differences between ethnic groups, related to damage scores.
We studied 1416 patients, including 826 Caucasians, 249 Asians, 122 Afro-Caribbeans, and 73 Aboriginals. Although the overall number of American College of Rheumatology criteria in different ethnic groups was similar, there were differences in individual manifestations and autoantibody profiles. Asian and Afro-Caribbean patients had more frequent renal involvement and more exposure to immunosuppressives. Aboriginal patients had high frequencies of antiphospholipid antibodies and high rates of comorbidity, but disease manifestations similar to Caucasians. Asian patients had the youngest age at onset and the lowest damage scores. Aboriginals had the least education and lowest incomes. The final regression model (R2=0.27) for higher damage score included older age, longer disease duration, low income, prednisone treatment, higher disease activity, and cyclophosphamide treatment.
There are differences in lupus phenotypes between ethnic populations. Although ethnicity was not found to be a significant independent predictor of damage accrual, low income was.
Physical and occupational therapy are beneficial for persons with chronic arthritis; however, access is problematic. The goal was to examine issues related to access to these services for patients with chronic arthritis.
We used two data sources: 1) questionnaires sent to a random sample of 600 family physicians and to all 85 rheumatologists in the province of Quebec; and 2) interviews of 211 patients with physician-confirmed chronic arthritis recruited from 34 primary care settings in Quebec.
Only 11.5% of family physicians and 31.7% of rheumatologists referred patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to rehabilitation, whereas 60.4% of family doctors referred patients with osteoarthritis. Only 26.1% of patients felt that they required rehabilitation and this was associated with lower self-efficacy (OR: 0.84, 95% CI: 0.72, 0.99) and higher educational level (OR: 2.10, 95% CI: 1.01, 4.36).
Family physicians are less likely to refer patients with RA to therapy. Only about a quarter of patients with chronic arthritis treated in primary care perceived the need for these services. Efforts to improve arthritis care should address education of physicians and patients regarding the benefits of rehabilitation and there should be efforts to increase therapy resources in order to enhance access.
To examine the validity of case definitions for systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases [SARD; systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic sclerosis (SSc), myositis, Sjögren's syndrome, vasculitis, and polymyalgia rheumatica] based on administrative data, compared to rheumatology records.
A list of rheumatic disease diagnoses was generated from population-based administrative billing and hospitalization databases. Subjects who had been seen by an arthritis center rheumatologist were identified, and the medical records reviewed.
We found that 844 Nova Scotia residents had a diagnosis of one of the rheumatic diseases of interest, based on administrative data, and had had = 1 rheumatology assessment at a provincial arthritis center. Charts were available on 824 subjects, some of whom had been identified in the administrative database with > 1 diagnosis. Thus a total of 1136 diagnoses were available for verification against clinical records. Of the 824 subjects, 680 (83%) had their administrative database diagnoses confirmed on chart review. The majority of subjects who were "false-positive" for a given rheumatic disease on administrative data had a true diagnosis of a similar rheumatic disease. Most sensitivity estimates for specific administrative data-based case definitions were > 90%, although for SSc, the sensitivity was 80.5%. The specificity estimates were also > 90%, except for SLE, where the specificity was 72.5%.
Although health administrative data may be a valid resource, there are potential problems regarding the specificity and sensitivity of case definitions, which should be kept in mind for future studies.
Health administrative data can be a valuable tool for disease surveillance and research. Few studies have rigorously evaluated the accuracy of administrative databases for identifying rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Our aim was to validate administrative data algorithms to identify RA patients in Ontario, Canada.
We performed a retrospective review of a random sample of 450 patients from 18 rheumatology clinics. Using rheumatologist-reported diagnosis as the reference standard, we tested and validated different combinations of physician billing, hospitalization, and pharmacy data.
One hundred forty-nine rheumatology patients were classified as having RA and 301 were classified as not having RA based on our reference standard definition (study RA prevalence 33%). Overall, algorithms that included physician billings had excellent sensitivity (range 94-100%). Specificity and positive predictive value (PPV) were modest to excellent and increased when algorithms included multiple physician claims or specialist claims. The addition of RA medications did not significantly improve algorithm performance. The algorithm of "(1 hospitalization RA code ever) OR (3 physician RA diagnosis codes [claims] with =1 by a specialist in a 2-year period)" had a sensitivity of 97%, specificity of 85%, PPV of 76%, and negative predictive value of 98%. Most RA patients (84%) had an RA diagnosis code present in the administrative data within ±1 year of a rheumatologist's documented diagnosis date.
We demonstrated that administrative data can be used to identify RA patients with a high degree of accuracy. RA diagnosis date and disease duration are fairly well estimated from administrative data in jurisdictions of universal health care insurance.
In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), quality indicators (QIs) are tools used to measure process of care. This study aimed to assess performance of selected QIs from the 2004 Arthritis Foundation's QI Set at 2 major sites of a university network of teaching hospitals.
The charts and electronic hospital records of 76 RA patients were audited to determine adherence to QIs. Logistic multivariate regression analyses were performed to investigate potential determinants of nonadherence and propose measures to facilitate better QI compliance, as a potential strategy towards RA care improvement.
We identified consistent observance of QIs mandating prescription of disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy for all patients, drug adjustment with disease activity, prednisone tapering, and bisphosphonate therapy if indicated for patients on glucocorticoids. However, there was either lack of documentation or true inconsistent adherence to QIs dealing with radiograph performance, functional capacity assessment, and screening for hepatitis and tuberculosis before commencement of methotrexate and biologic agents, respectively. For the specific QIs analyzed, we did not find any definite independent associations with the studied variables.
Our findings indicate that while there is frequent evidence for adherence to certain RA quality care standards at our centers, there is less compliance to others. Strategies to optimize the performance or documentation of those found most lacking, namely, functional capacity and screening for specific drug contraindications, could improve patient care. Radiographic disease monitoring, while lacking, may represent a move toward other more sensitive methods of RA progression detection, such as joint ultrasound. The inclusion of patient- and physician-derived information could help elucidate the reasons underlying nonadherence.
To assess the number of live births in women whose systemic sclerosis (SSc) onset occurred during their reproductive years, and to compare this with general population rates.
Within the Canadian Scleroderma Research Group cohort, we identified 320 women whose SSc symptoms began prior to age 50 years. We determined the number of children born in the years following first onset of symptoms. We summed the years of followup from the time of first symptoms in subjects up to age 50 years (or oldest age attained, if the subject was age
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic disease of unclear etiology, characterized by an overactive immune system and the production of antibodies that may target normal tissues of many organ systems, including the kidneys. It can arise at any age and occurs mainly in women.
Our aim was to evaluate the potential influence of particulate matter (PM) air pollution on clinical aspects of SLE.
We studied a clinic cohort of SLE patients living on the island of Montreal, followed annually with a structured clinical assessment. We assessed the association between ambient levels of fine PM [median aerodynamic diameter = 2.5 µm (PM2.5)] measured at fixed-site monitoring stations and SLE disease activity measured with the SLE Disease Activity Index, version 2000 (SLEDAI-2K), which includes anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) serum-specific autoantibodies and renal tubule cellular casts in urine, which reflects serious renal inflammation. We used mixed effects regression models that we adjusted for daily ambient temperatures and ozone levels.
We assessed 237 patients (223 women) who together had 1,083 clinic visits from 2000 through 2007 (mean age at time of first visit, 41.2 years). PM2.5 levels were associated with anti-dsDNA and cellular casts. The crude and adjusted odds ratios (reflecting a 10-µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 averaged over the 48 hr prior to clinical assessment) were 1.26 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.96-1.65] and 1.34 (95% CI, 1.02-1.77) for anti-dsDNA antibodies and 1.43 (95% CI, 1.05-1.95) and 1.28 (0.92-1.80) for cellular casts. The total SLEDAI-2K scores were not associated with PM2.5 levels.
We provide novel data that suggest that short-term variations in air pollution may influence disease activity in established autoimmune rheumatic disease in humans. Our results add weight to concerns that pollution may be an important trigger of inflammation and autoimmunity.
To update estimates of cancer risk in SLE relative to the general population.
A multisite international SLE cohort was linked with regional tumor registries. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated as the ratio of observed to expected cancers.
Across 30 centres, 16,409 patients were observed for 121,283 (average 7.4) person-years. In total, 644 cancers occurred. Some cancers, notably hematologic malignancies, were substantially increased (SIR 3.02, 95% confidence interval, CI, 2.48, 3.63), particularly non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, NHL (SIR 4.39, 95% CI 3.46, 5.49) and leukemia. In addition, increased risks of cancer of the vulva (SIR 3.78, 95% CI 1.52, 7.78), lung (SIR 1.30, 95% CI 1.04, 1.60), thyroid (SIR 1.76, 95% CI 1.13, 2.61) and possibly liver (SIR 1.87, 95% CI 0.97, 3.27) were suggested. However, a decreased risk was estimated for breast (SIR 0.73, 95% CI 0.61-0.88), endometrial (SIR 0.44, 95% CI 0.23-0.77), and possibly ovarian cancers (0.64, 95% CI 0.34-1.10). The variability of comparative rates across different cancers meant that only a small increased risk was estimated across all cancers (SIR 1.14, 95% CI 1.05, 1.23).
These data estimate only a small increased risk in SLE (versus the general population) for cancer over-all. However, there is clearly an increased risk of NHL, and cancers of the vulva, lung, thyroid, and possibly liver. It remains unclear to what extent the association with NHL is mediated by innate versus exogenous factors. Similarly, the etiology of the decreased breast, endometrial, and possibly ovarian cancer risk is uncertain, though investigations are ongoing.
To describe care partnerships between family physicians and rheumatologists.
A random sample (20%, n = 478) of family physicians was mailed a questionnaire, asking if there was at least 1 particular rheumatologist to whom the physician tended to refer patients. If the answer was affirmative, the physician would be considered as having a "care partnership" with that rheumatologist. The family physician then rated, on a 5-point scale, factors of importance regarding the relationship with that rheumatologist.
The questionnaire was completed by 84/462 (18.2%) of family physicians; 52/84 (61.9%) reported having rheumatology care partnerships according to our definition. Regarding interactions with rheumatologists, most respondents rated the following as important (score = 4): adequate communication and information exchange (44/50, 88.0%); waiting time for new patients (40/50, 80.0%); clear and appropriate balance of responsibilities (39/49, 79.6%); and patient feedback and preferences (34/50, 68%). Male family physicians were more likely than females to accord high importance to personal knowledge of the rheumatologist, and to physical proximity of the rheumatologist's practice. Regarding relationships with rheumatologists, 30/50 (60.0%) of respondents felt communication and information exchange were adequate, and 35/50 (70.0%) felt they had a clear balance of responsibilities.
Almost two-thirds of family physicians have rheumatology care partnerships, according to our definition. In this partnership, establishing adequate communication and shorter waiting time seem of paramount importance to family physicians. A balanced sharing of responsibilities and patients' preferences are also valued. Although many physicians reported adequate communication and clear and appropriate balance of responsibilities in their current interactions with rheumatologists, there appears to be room for improvement.
To determine the proportion of family physicians who diagnose rheumatoid arthritis (RA) correctly and to note how they report they would manage RA patients.
Mailed survey (self-administered questionnaire) requesting comments on vignettes.
Province of Quebec.
Computer-generated random sample of family physicians registered with the Quebec College of Family Physicians.
The proportion of family physicians who recognized RA and their reported management strategies.
Most respondents recognized the vignette presentation as a case of RA; 133/138 (96.4%) indicated RA as their provisional diagnosis, and all but 1 of the remaining respondents listed RA as a differential diagnosis. Of those who considered RA as a provisional or possible diagnosis, 107 (77.5% of all respondents) suggested referring the patient to a rheumatologist. Among the physicians who suggested referral, none indicated they would initiate disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Almost all respondents considered RA as a provisional or differential diagnosis. Although many suggested referring the patient to a rheumatologist, almost a quarter did not. Initiating DMARDs before referring patients to rheumatologists appears to be rare. Since DMARDs given during the early stages of RA are known to decrease damage and dysfunction, ways to increase their use and optimize care pathways for new-onset inflammatory arthritis are urgently needed.
Cites: Am J Infect Control. 2006 May;34(4):164-916679171
Cites: Acad Radiol. 2006 Jun;13(6):678-8516679269
Cites: Urol Int. 2006;76(4):314-2016679832
Cites: Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2001 Mar;15(1):139-7011358420
Cites: Am J Med. 2001 Oct 15;111(6):446-5111690569
Cites: Ann Rheum Dis. 2002 Apr;61(4):290-711874828