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Clin Rheumatol. 2009 Feb;28(2):139-43. doi: 10.1007/s10067-008-0997-7. Epub 2008 Sep 3.

Greater focus on clinical rheumatology is required for training in internal medicine.

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Department of Rheumatology, St James' Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland.


Early intervention for rheumatic disease has been shown to improve prognosis, but is dependent on the recognition of pertinent symptoms and signs. This study was undertaken to identify the attitudes of junior doctors toward musculoskeletal assessment. The charts of 100 randomly selected medical patients admitted via the Emergency Department were reviewed for documentation of the musculoskeletal system. In addition, junior doctors were interviewed regarding their views on musculoskeletal assessment. Only 16% of medical admission notes contained a reference to the musculoskeletal system and the recording of joint examinations was incomplete in all cases. Prior training in musculoskeletal assessment depended on the joint area involved (hand, 100%; foot, 36.2%). Most doctors felt competent in hand assessment (68.8%) but only 12.5% could examine the foot. More than one third could not confidently diagnose common rheumatic conditions, while 75% felt unable to diagnose a connective tissue disorder. The majority (88.7%) regarded the musculoskeletal assessment as difficult/challenging and 61.3% thought that it should not be included as part of a general medical examination. However, 80% of doctors felt that they had not received adequate teaching in musculoskeletal assessment and would welcome further training. The omission of the musculoskeletal assessment for medical patients admitted to hospital is reflected in the fact that doctors lack training in this area. Furthermore, doctors lack confidence in their ability to recognise both common and rare rheumatic diagnoses, a problem likely to impact adversely on the outcome of patients with these conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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