Can numerical rating scales of disease impact be used as targets for patient-centred management in rheumatoid arthritis?

Cátia Duarte, Eduardo Santos, Sofia C Barreira, Pedro Ávila-Ribeiro, Flavio Costa, Pedro Freitas, Filipe Araújo, Raquel Freitas, Jose Marona, Santiago R Manica, Joana Ferreira, Maura Couto, Miguel Guerra, Leonard H Calabrese, Maarten de Wit, Ricardo J O Ferreira, Jose A P da Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Patient centred care is an increasingly important paradigm. Applying a treat-to-target strategy to the impact of the disease in patients' lives seems a very promising tool to serve this purpose. We aimed to evaluate if maximum acceptable impact scores (target-values) defined at the population level provide an appropriate representation for most individual patients. To determine if the individually established target values of impact are consistent enough to be used in a treat-to-target strategy.

METHODS: Consecutive patients with rheumatoid arthritis were asked to indicate, in two consecutive visits, the maximum severity of impact they considered acceptable to live with for the rest of their lives, in the seven domains of Rheumatoid Arthritis Impact of Disease score. The individual adequacy of population-based reference values was assessed by measures of dispersion. Stability of individual target-values were evaluated through intraclass correlation coefficient. Socio-demographic, clinical and psychological features were tested as co-factors of stability.

RESULTS: 299 patients were included. The dispersion of targets was wide (CV>0.68), thus limiting the use of any population-based single values as targets for the individual patients. Although the mean target values were very similar in both visits for all domains, reliability was poor in all cases (ICCs: 0.37-0.47). Only 25-30% of the patients selected the same target value in the 2 visits. No explanatory factors for (non-)stability were identified.

CONCLUSIONS: Quantified impact targets defined at population level are not appropriate for individual patient care. Research on alternative tools to support patient-centred, target-oriented management strategies is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-710
JournalClinical and Experimental Rheumatology
Issue number3
Early online date5 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • impact
  • patient’s perspective
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • target


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