Primary care challenges in diagnosing and referring patients with suspected rheumatoid arthritis: a national cross-sectional GP survey

Scott, Ian C, Mangat, Navjeet, MacGregor, Alex, Raza, Karim, Mallen, Christian D and Hider, Samantha L (2018) Primary care challenges in diagnosing and referring patients with suspected rheumatoid arthritis: a national cross-sectional GP survey. Rheumatology Advances in Practice, 2 (1). ISSN 2514-1775

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Abstract

Objective: National guidelines advocate referring patients with persistent synovitis to rheumatology within 3 working days of presentation to primary care. This occurs infrequently. We aimed to identify modifiable barriers to early referral of suspected RA patients among English general practitioners (GPs). Methods: We carried out a national cross-sectional survey of 1388 English GPs (RA Questionnaire for GPs [RA-QUEST] study). Questions addressed GPs’ confidence in diagnosing RA, clinical factors influencing RA diagnosis/referral, timeliness of referrals and secondary care access. Data were captured using 10-point visual analog scales, five-point Likert scales, yes/no questions or free text, and were analysed descriptively. Results: Small joint swelling and pain were most influential in diagnosing RA (91 and 84% rated the importance of these as 4 or 5 on a five-point Likert scale, respectively); investigations including RF (61% rating 4 or 5) and anti-CCP antibody (72% rating 4 or 5) were less influential. Patient history had the greatest impact on the decision to refer (92% rating this 4 or 5 on a 5-point Likert scale), with acute phase markers (74% rating 4 or 5) and serology (76% rating 4 or 5) less impactful. Despite the importance placed on history and examination, only 26% referred suspected RA immediately without investigations; 95% of GPs organizing further tests opted to test for RF. Conclusion: For suspected RA patients to be referred within 3 days of presentation to primary care there needs to be a paradigm shift in GPs’ approaches to making referral decisions, with a focus on clinical history and examination findings, and not the use of investigations such as RF.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2018 15:30
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2020 23:47
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/67902
DOI: 10.1093/rap/rky012

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