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J Clin Epidemiol. 1990;43(11):1243-53.

Health status reports in the care of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Arthritis Center, Boston University School of Medicine, MA 02118.


We examined the use of formal health status reports every 3 months over 1 year in the clinical care of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The reports consisted of single-page, computer-generated summaries of scores derived from either the AIMS (Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales) or the MHAQ (Modified Health Assessment Questionnaire) health status questionnaires. A total of 1920 subjects from 27 community practice sites were randomly assigned to three study groups in each practice: intervention, attention placebo and control. Results showed that 55% of the physicians found the reports to be at least moderately useful as an aid to patient management, primarily for improving the doctor-patient relationship. However, no detectable differences among the three groups were seen in terms of medication compliance, number of physician visits, number of referrals, frequency of major medication changes, attitudes towards the physician, patient satisfaction or change in health status over 1 year. The failure to demonstrate objective benefits of health status reports in this study may be due to physician unfamiliarity with health status scores, failure to link the report with an office visit, the relative stability of clinical status in the subjects over 1 year and the relatively short time-frame of the study.

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