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Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. PATIENTS AND METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. REFERENCES
  7. Appenxix A:
  8. Appenxix B:

Objective

To develop and validate a clinical measure of articular and extraarticular damage in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

Methods

The Juvenile Arthritis Damage Index (JADI), which is derived from physical examination and a brief review of the patient's clinical history, is composed of 2 parts: assessments of articular damage (JADI-A) and extraarticular damage (JADI-E). Instrument validation was accomplished by evaluating 158 JIA patients with disease duration of at least 5 years, seen consecutively over 21 months. The instrument's feasibility, face and content validity, construct and discriminative ability, internal consistency, and interrater reliability were examined.

Results

Among the 158 JIA patients, 47% and 37% had articular and extraarticular damage, respectively. The JADI was found to be feasible and to possess both face and content validity. The JADI-A score correlated highly with the number of joints with limited range of motion (Spearman's r [rS] = 0.72) and correlated moderately with the Childhood Health Assessment Questionnaire score (rS = 0.41), Steinbrocker functional classification (rS = 0.50), and Poznanski's score of radiographic damage (rS = −0.54), thereby demonstrating good construct validity. Correlations with the JADI-E score were lower, owing to the heterogeneity of its items. The JADI-A discriminated well among different levels of disability. The internal consistency (Chronbach's alpha) of the JADI-A and JADI-E was 0.93 and 0.59, respectively. The intraclass correlation coefficients between pairs of independent observers ranged from 0.85 to 0.97.

Conclusion

The JADI exhibited good reliability, construct validity, and discriminative ability and is therefore a valid instrument for the assessment of long-term damage in patients with JIA, in the context of both clinical management and research settings.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a chronic and heterogeneous disease characterized by prolonged synovial inflammation that may lead to permanent alterations in joint structures. Permanent changes may also develop in extraarticular organs/systems, such as the eye (as a complication of chronic anterior uveitis) or the kidney (due to systemic amyloidosis), or may result from side effects of medications (1). This morbidity may have a relevant impact on the quality of life of patients and their families (2, 3).

In the outcome studies published so far (for review, see refs. 4 and5), the long-term morbidity in JIA patients has been most frequently evaluated in terms of functional disability. Currently, the most widely used tool for assessment of functional status is the Childhood Health Assessment Questionnaire (C-HAQ) (6). However, despite its advantages and widespread use, the C-HAQ has been shown to have specific limitations in research and clinical settings. First, it has been demonstrated to have a ceiling effect, with a tendency for scores to cluster at the normal end of the scale, particularly in patients with fewer joints involved (7, 8). Second, its estimation of physical disability in patients with active disease can be inflated by symptoms of inflammation, particularly joint pain (9, 10). Third, the parent's observation of the child's physical function has been found to be frequently inaccurate, being affected by both the severity of arthritis and the level of pain (11). Finally, the C-HAQ may not capture information on several possible forms of damage that may develop in JIA patients over time, such as micrognathia, height retardation, localized growth disturbances, pubertal delay, or visceral organ failure.

Damage in the joints of patients with JIA is assessed by radiographs, which may show the destruction of bone and cartilage. Despite the usefulness of radiographs in studying disease progression, there are some drawbacks. First, radiographs do not fully reflect the biologic outcome of the disease, because they represent mainly cartilage and osseous changes, whereas part of the articular damage in JIA is in the soft tissues surrounding the bones. In addition, radiographs do not measure damage in extraarticular systems or visceral organs. Second, the few available methods for scoring radiographic damage in JIA patients concentrate on the wrists or knees (12–14), whereas damage in other joints may be of equal importance for a patient's functional ability. Third, the cost of measuring radiographic damage and the related radiation exposure make these methods less suitable for studying large numbers of patients or for use in developing countries.

To monitor the course of the disease effectively and to address multiple outcomes over the long term, there is a need for an adjunctive clinical instrument that encompasses all forms of damage that may accumulate in patients with JIA over time. Several attempts to design a method of scoring clinical damage in adult rheumatoid arthritis have been reported (15–18), but such a measure does not exist for JIA. In order to provide a clinical measure that reflects the overall biologic outcome of JIA, we have devised a simple and easy-to-apply clinical index, the Juvenile Arthritis Damage Index (JADI), to assess the total amount of articular and extraarticular damage. In this report, we provide evidence of the reliability and validity of this scale in a large cohort of JIA patients with longstanding disease.

PATIENTS AND METHODS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. PATIENTS AND METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. REFERENCES
  7. Appenxix A:
  8. Appenxix B:

Patient selection.

The present cross-sectional study comprised all patients seen consecutively between September 2002 and May 2004 at the Departments of Pediatrics of Genoa and Pavia Universities in Italy. The patients met the following entry criteria: 1) diagnosis of JIA in accordance with the 2001 International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) revised criteria (19); 2) disease duration of at least 5 years; and 3) provision of informed consent. Patients were excluded if they had enthesitis-related arthritis.

Clinical assessment.

At the time of the study visit, the following information was obtained for each patient: sex, age at disease presentation, ILAR category of JIA, disease duration and age at study visit, and previous use of systemic corticosteroid and second-line drug therapies. The following clinical assessments were made by the attending pediatric rheumatologist (AR or SV in Genoa and SMM in Pavia): physician's global assessment of overall disease activity measured on a 10-cm visual analog scale (VAS) (0 = no activity, 10 = maximum activity), number of swollen joints, number of joints with pain on movement/tenderness, number of joints with limited range of motion (ROM), and number of joints with active arthritis (defined as joints with swelling, or if no swelling present, joints with limitation of movement with either pain on motion or tenderness). The articular indices were assessed in a total of 67 joints (those that are included in the standard articular examination). The attending physician also assigned the Steinbrocker functional classification (20).

A parent of each patient was asked to make a global assessment of the child's overall well-being on a 10-cm VAS (0 = very good, 10 = very poor), to assess the degree of the child's pain on a 10-cm VAS (0 = no pain, 10 = very severe pain), and to complete the Italian version of the C-HAQ (21) (0 = best, 3 = worst). For purposes of the analysis, the C-HAQ score was divided into the following 4 categories: 0 = no disability, >0 and ≤0.5 = mild disability, >0.5 and ≤1.5 = moderate disability, and >1.5 = severe disability (22).

The parent was also asked to evaluate the child's health-related quality of life (HQOL) through the Italian parent version of the Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ) (21). Briefly, the CHQ (23) is a generic instrument that is designed to capture the physical, emotional, and social components of health status of children of at least 5 years of age. It comprises 15 subscales and yields 2 summary measures: the physical score (PhS) and the psychosocial score (PsS). These scores have been standardized in healthy Italian children to have a mean of 50 and an SD of 10. Higher scores in the scales indicate better HQOL. The laboratory assessment of JIA activity included the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) determined with the Westergren method, and the C-reactive protein (CRP) level determined with nephelometry.

Radiographic assessment.

In patients with wrist involvement, standard radiographs of both wrists in the posteroanterior view were obtained. Radiographic damage was scored according to the method described by Poznanski et al (12), as previously reported (13). Briefly, this method is based on the measurement of the radiometacarpal (RM) length, which is the distance from the base of the third metacarpal bone to the midpoint of the distal growth plate of the radius, and of the maximal length of the second metacarpal bone (M2). All radiographs were evaluated by the same observer (FR), who has specific experience in the assessment of Poznanski's score. For each wrist, the number of standard deviations between the expected and the observed RM length for the measured M2 was calculated. The RM/M2 score, which represents the carpal length and constitutes Poznanski's score, reflects the amount of radiographic damage in the wrist. A more negative score indicates more severe radiographic damage. For each pair of wrists, the mean score was used in the analyses.

Damage assessment.

The amount of articular and extraarticular damage was assessed using the JADI. This index was devised by a group of 6 experienced pediatric rheumatologists (AR, SV, AB, NR, SMM, and AM) based on their previous clinical experience, as well as on pediatric rheumatology and physiotherapy textbooks (1, 24–26) and on similar efforts undertaken in adult rheumatoid arthritis (15–18). After extensive discussion of the relative importance of each potential item, an item was retained only when there was agreement among the group components indicating that it should be kept in the index. Thus, content validity was provided by the members of the group. To ensure face validity, the instrument was shown to 10 physicians in the study centers who were not part of the JADI group and to 4 physiotherapists, and their opinion on the suitability of the instrument was obtained.

The index was designed to be quick and easy to score, using information obtained by physical examination and by a brief review of the patient's clinical history. The definitions for scoring each item are concise and simple, in order to make the method accessible to inexperienced assessors. The JADI is intended to rate the extent of damage, defined as persistent changes in anatomy, physiologic status, pathologic processes, or function, that is the result of prior active disease, complications of therapy, or comorbid conditions, that is not due to currently active arthritis, and that is present for at least 6 months despite previous therapies, including exercise and rehabilitation. Damage is often irreversible and cumulative, and thus, damage scores are most frequently expected to increase or remain stable over time. However, because some forms of damage may improve or even resolve in pediatric patients, scores may decline in some cases. The index is composed of 2 parts, one devoted to the assessment of articular damage (JADI-A) and one devoted to the assessment of extraarticular damage (JADI-E) (see Appendices A and B).

In the JADI-A, 36 joints or joint groups are assessed for the presence of damage. The damage observed in each joint is scored on a 2-point scale (1 = partial damage, 2 = severe damage, ankylosis, or prosthesis). The only tool needed is a goniometer, although most joints can be assessed without one. The maximum total score is 72.

The JADI-E includes 13 items in 5 different organs/systems. Each item is scored as either 0 or 1 according to whether damage is absent or present, respectively. Due to the relevant impact of ocular damage on the child's health, it was decided to give a score of 2 for each eye when the patient has had ocular surgery, and a score of 3 when the patient has developed legal blindness. A glossary of terms is included in the JADI-E (see Appendix B) to provide more specific definitions of each single item. The maximum total score is 17.

The amount of damage was determined independently by 3 observers (AR, SV, and AB) in patients seen in Genoa, and by 2 observers (SMM and MB) in patients seen in Pavia. Damage was assessed on the same day at which the other assessments were performed.

Statistical analysis.

To validate the JADI, we used the filter of the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Clinical Trials (27, 28). Feasibility or practicality of the JADI was determined by addressing the issues of brevity, simplicity, and ease of scoring and from the percentage of missing values (29). Face and content validity have been discussed above.

Criterion validity is a measure of the extent to which values on an instrument agree with those of a gold standard. However, there is no reference measure against which to test the validity of the JADI. For this reason, convergent construct validity was investigated. Construct validity is a form of validation that seeks to examine whether the construct in question, in this case the JADI, is related to other measures in a manner consistent with a priori prediction. Given that the JADI-A was devised to measure cumulative articular damage, it was predicted that the correlation of the JADI-A score with joint counts (number of joints with limited ROM) would be high, since both are measures of closely related constructs. Correlations with measures of physical disability and radiographic damage were predicted to be moderate, since both are important components of cumulative damage, and correlations with disease activity parameters were predicted to be low. Since the JADI-E measures cumulative damage not only in the musculoskeletal system, but also in some extraskeletal organs/systems, the correlations of the JADI-E score with the extent of physical disability and radiographic damage were predicted to be low to moderate; as for the JADI-A, the correlations of the extraarticular component of the JADI with disease activity measures were predicted to be low. In the validation process, we also evaluated the correlation between the JADI scales and the HQOL assessment. In this case, no prediction was attempted, because HQOL is a multidimensional concept that can be affected by several other factors in addition to damage. Correlations were assessed using Spearman's rank correlation coefficients (rS). For the purpose of this analysis, correlations >0.7 were considered high, correlations ranging from 0.4 to 0.7 were considered moderate, and correlations <0.4 were considered low (30). Agreement between predicted and observed correlations was taken as evidence of construct validity.

To determine whether the JADI exhibited different characteristics in mildly and more severely affected subjects, the group of patients with moderate-to-severe disability was identified as those with a score >0.5 on the C-HAQ. Key correlations were then recalculated and compared with those obtained in the complete population. Furthermore, we compared the Spearman's correlation of JADI-A and C-HAQ scores with the Steinbrocker functional classification, Poznanski's score of radiographic damage, and the HQOL score. The discriminative ability of the JADI was assessed through one-way analysis of variance, by comparing JADI scores from patients belonging to different ILAR categories or having different levels of disability as measured by the Steinbrocker functional classification or the C-HAQ.

Interrater reliability was assessed by calculating the intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) (31) between 2 independent, blinded observers who completed the JADI scales in the same patients on the same day. An ICC value higher than 0.8 was considered indicative of excellent reliability. The mean of the results of JADI assessment obtained from the 2 observers was used in all validation analyses.

The internal consistency of the scales was determined by calculating Cronbach's alpha coefficient (32). A value of 0.80 was considered acceptable (33). The responsiveness of the instrument could not be assessed due to the cross-sectional nature of the study. It will be done in a future prospective study, but this will take at least 5 years.

All statistical tests were 2-sided, and a P value less than 0.05 was considered significant. The statistical package used was Statistica (StatSoft, Tulsa, OK).

RESULTS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. PATIENTS AND METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. REFERENCES
  7. Appenxix A:
  8. Appenxix B:

Patient characteristics.

A total of 158 patients, 141 from Genoa and 17 from Pavia, were included in the study; their main clinical features are presented in Table 1. None of the eligible patients seen in the study period refused to participate or were excluded for other reasons. Of the 107 patients who had received second-line drug therapies, 103 had received methotrexate, 40 cyclosporin A, 14 etanercept, 11 sulfasalazine, 4 azathioprine, 3 hydroxychloroquine, 1 colchicine, and 1 infliximab.

Table 1. Clinical features of the 158 study patients
 TotalMedianMinimumMaximum
  • *

    ILAR = International League of Associations for Rheumatology.

  • Range 0 (best) to 10 (worst).

  • Abnormal score: less than −2.0.

  • §

    Normal <15.

  • Normal <0.3 (all values below the threshold were equalized to 0.1 mg/dl).

No. (%) male/no. (%) female35 (22.1)/123 (77.8)   
ILAR category, no. (%)*    
 Systemic arthritis20 (12.6)   
 Rheumatoid factor–negative polyarthritis28 (17.7)   
 Rheumatoid factor–positive polyarthritis5 (3.2)   
 Oligoarthritis, extended47 (29.7)   
 Oligoarthritis, persistent52 (32.9)   
 Psoriatic arthritis6 (3.8)   
Age at disease onset, years 3.10.514.8
Age at study visit, years 11.85.525.6
Disease duration, years 7.35.024.5
Physician's global assessment of overall disease activity 2.50.010.0
Parent's global assessment of the patient's overall well-being (n = 151) 0.70.09.5
Parent's assessment of the patient's pain (n = 148) 1.00.09.9
No. of swollen joints 1.00.030.0
No. of joints with pain on motion/tenderness 1.00.028.0
No. of joints with limited range of motion 1.00.061.0
No. of joints with active arthritis 2.00.039.0
Duration of morning stiffness, minutes (n = 148) 0.00.0240.0
Poznanski's score, units (n = 75) −1.4−7.01.5
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, mm/hour (n = 147)§ 15.02.0108.0
C-reactive protein, mg/dl (n = 147) 0.10.19.9
Previous second-line drug therapy, no. (%)107 (67.7)   
Previous systemic corticosteroid therapy, no. (%)68 (43.0)   

Articular and extraarticular damage.

The results of articular and extraarticular damage assessments are shown in Table 2, together with the assessments of physical disability and HQOL. Forty-seven percent of patients had damage in at least one articular site and 37% of patients had damage in at least one extraarticular domain. Fifty-two percent of patients had disability according to the C-HAQ (score >0), while 38% had disability according to the Steinbrocker classification (classes II–IV). The percentage of patients with severe disability was 1.3% by the C-HAQ (score >1.5) and 0.6% by the Steinbrocker classification (class IV). The wrist was the most frequently damaged joint (16%), followed by the elbow (14%) and the interphalangeal joints (14%), whereas the cervical spine (6%) and the metacarpophalangeal joints (6%) were the least commonly affected sites. Ocular damage (6% and 10% in the right eye and left eye, respectively), growth failure (11%), and muscle atrophy (9%) were the most frequently reported extraarticular items, whereas avascular necrosis of bone, diabetes mellitus, secondary amyloidosis, malignancy, and other organ failure were not observed.

Table 2. Results of physical disability, health-related quality of life, and damage assessments
 Total no. (%)MedianMinimumMaximum
  • *

    Range 0 (best) to 3 (worst).

  • Norm-based score (for both physical and psychosocial scores): mean ± SD 50 ± 10.

  • Range 0 (best) to 72 (worst).

  • §

    Range 0 (best) to 18 (worst).

Childhood Health Assessment Questionnaire (n = 155) 0.12502.75
 Score*
 Score category    
  No disability (0)74 (47.7)   
  Mild disability (>0 and ≤0.5)50 (32.3)   
  Moderate-to-severe disability (>0.5)31 (20)   
Steinbrocker functional classification    
 Class I98 (62)   
 Class II53 (33.5)   
 Classes III–IV7 (4.4)   
Child Health Questionnaire physical summary score (n = 120) 52.718.360.9
Child Health Questionnaire psychosocial summary score (n = 120) 49.127.862.3
Juvenile Arthritis Damage Index articular score 0039
Juvenile Arthritis Damage Index extraarticular score§ 007

Feasibility.

The JADI appeared to be easy to apply. After a short learning period, it took 5–15 minutes for each patient, depending on the amount of damage. There were no missing responses for either of the JADI scales.

Face and content validity.

As stated above, content validity was established by the members of the group who devised the index. Face validity was confirmed by 10 physicians and 4 physiotherapists who have specific experience in the field, all of whom provided their agreement. Nevertheless, several points were raised regarding the definitions of the items, and these were discussed and partially incorporated in the final version.

Construct validity.

The Spearman's correlation coefficients used to assess convergent construct validity of the JADI scales are summarized in Table 3. As predicted, correlation of the JADI-A score with the number of joints with limited ROM was high. Moreover, as predicted, correlations with the C-HAQ score, Steinbrocker functional classification, and Poznanski's score of radiographic damage were moderate. Correlations between the JADI-A score and measures of disease activity, including physician's and parent's global assessments, swollen and painful joint counts, duration of morning stiffness, the ESR, and CRP level, were low; the sole exception was a moderate correlation with the active joint count, perhaps reflecting the close correlation between the JADI-A score and the number of joints with limited ROM, the latter of which is one of the components of the definition of active joints.

Table 3. Construct validity of the Juvenile Arthritis Damage Index in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, as assessed in relation to other quantitative outcome measures*
Outcome measureNo. of patientsJuvenile Arthritis Damage Index articular scoreJuvenile Arthritis Damage Index extraarticular score
  • *

    Values are Spearman's correlation coefficients. See Tables 1 and 2 for instrument score ranges.

Physician's global assessment of overall disease activity1580.140.25
Parent's global assessment of the patient's overall well-being1510.250.33
Parent's assessment of the patient's pain1480.230.29
No. of swollen joints1580.250.16
No. of joints with pain on motion/tenderness1580.380.27
No. of joints with limited range of motion1580.720.35
Limited range of motion score1550.720.37
No. of active joints1580.450.26
Duration of morning stiffness1480.160.18
Childhood Health Assessment Questionnaire score1550.410.32
Steinbrocker functional classification1580.500.38
Poznanski's score of radiographic damage75−0.54−0.38
Child Health Questionnaire physical summary score120−0.19−0.32
Child Health Questionnaire psychosocial summary score1200.04−0.05
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate1470.190.35
C-reactive protein level1470.210.28

All Spearman's correlation coefficients for associations between the outcome measures and the JADI-E score were low. All correlations of damage scores with the CHQ PhS and PsS scores were low, although there was a tendency toward better correlations with the physical component (PhS) of the CHQ.

When only patients with moderate-to-severe disability (C-HAQ score >0.5; n = 31) were analyzed, convergent construct validity showed some differences with respect to the entire population. In this subset of patients with more severe disability, correlations of the JADI-A score with the number of joints with limited ROM (rS = 0.79), with Poznanski's score of radiographic damage (rS = −0.65), and with the CHQ PhS (rS = 0.50) were higher, and correlations of the JADI-E score with the Steinbrocker functional classification (rS = 0.49) were higher. In contrast, correlations of the JADI-A score with the active joint count (rS = 0.33) were lower.

Discriminative validity.

The property of discriminative validity was assessed by comparing JADI scores among patients belonging to different ILAR categories or having different levels of disability. The JADI-A discriminated well among patients on the basis of ILAR category of JIA or C-HAQ score category (data not shown) and on the basis of Steinbrocker functional class (Figure 1).

thumbnail image

Figure 1. Assessment of the discriminative ability of the Juvenile Arthritis Damage Index score of articular damage (JADI-A) based on the Steinbrocker functional class among patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Solid squares show the mean, surrounding boxes show the SEM, and bars show the 95% confidence interval. P < 0.0001 between functional classes.

Download figure to PowerPoint

Internal consistency.

Chronbach's alpha was calculated to measure the internal consistency of the scales. For the JADI-A, α = 0.93; for the JADI-E, α = 0.59.

Interrater reliability.

The ICC for JADI assessments between pairs of independent observers ranged from 0.85 to 0.97, indicating very good interrater reliability.

Relationship of the JADI and C-HAQ with Steinbrocker classification, radiographic damage, and HQOL.

The JADI-A and the C-HAQ score were found to be correlated to a similar extent with the Steinbrocker functional classification, whereas the JADI-A proved to be more strongly correlated with the number of joints with limited ROM (rS = 0.72 versus rS = 0.55 with the C-HAQ) and with Poznanski's score of radiographic damage (rS = −0.54 versus rS = −0.21 with the C-HAQ). In contrast, the C-HAQ score was better correlated with both the CHQ PhS (rS = −0.56 versus rS = −0.19 with the JADI-A) and the CHQ PsS (rS = −0.19 versus rS = 0.04 with the JADI-A).

DISCUSSION

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. PATIENTS AND METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. REFERENCES
  7. Appenxix A:
  8. Appenxix B:

We have described the development of a new clinical measure of articular and extraarticular damage in patients with JIA. It is simple, easy to use, and is quick, taking only 5–15 minutes to score, which makes it practical for use in the clinical setting. The instrument was found to be feasible and to possess both face and content validity; furthermore, it exhibited good convergent construct validity, excellent reliability (interrater agreement and internal consistency), and strong discriminative validity in a large cohort of JIA patients with longstanding disease. The lower performance of the JADI-E as compared with the JADI-A in terms of construct validity and internal consistency was expected, because the former scale addresses a heterogeneous set of organ systems. By documenting these key measurement properties, we have shown that the JADI is a valid instrument for the assessment of accumulated damage in this patient population and is, therefore, potentially applicable in both clinical and research contexts.

The articular component of the JADI has been designed to assess 3 main forms of joint damage that are persistent for at least 6 months and are not due to currently active arthritis: limited ROM, deformity, and previous surgical interventions such as prosthetic replacement, arthrodesis, arthroplasty, or fusion. Although all main joints of the body are assessed, the scale does not require the measurement of all individual joint angles by a goniometer; this would be quite tedious and time-consuming. Instead, for each joint, only the movements that are known to be affected more frequently and precociously in JIA patients (being, thus, a surrogate measure of whole-joint movements) have been included. On the basis of current knowledge of a joint's normal ROM, an experienced examiner may visually estimate, for most joints, whether the ROM is normal or limited by the threshold indicated in the JADI-A. In some joints, particularly the cervical spine, shoulder, and hip, it may be difficult to distinguish damage from reversible impairment due to inflammation. In the case of impairment of shoulder or hip movement, the examiner has to decide whether it is fixed impairment or one that might improve after a corticosteroid injection. In the case of uncertainty, a second assessment (i.e., after 6–12 months) will help to clarify the issue.

Like its articular counterpart, the JADI-E is designed to assess the sources of extraarticular damage most frequently observed in JIA patients. The list of damage items is not intended to be exhaustive, but may be modified or enlarged after the application of the index to other populations of patients seen in different clinical or research settings. In general, we anticipate that both components of the JADI may undergo a process of refinement as we and other investigators incorporate new data, including information on the score change over time. Furthermore, it might be worth investigating whether weighting the JADI-A items differently, depending on the relative importance of each joint to a child's function, would improve the clinical relevance of the overall score. We found that item weighting using a recently developed weighted joint score (34) did not increase the correlations of the JADI-A with the other JIA severity measures (data not shown).

The JADI has been found by us to be a useful and practical tool. This does not mean, however, that it should be the only instrument used for the assessment of long-term outcomes in JIA patients. When we evaluated the Spearman's correlation between the JADI-A and the C-HAQ, we found that the 2 instruments were only moderately correlated. This means that the JADI and the C-HAQ both provide complementary and nonredundant information that facilitates the measurement of long-term morbidity in JIA patients. Notably, the JADI-A and the C-HAQ provided different levels of correlation with the radiographic score and with the HQOL, which are other key measures in JIA outcome studies. The closer relationship of the C-HAQ with the HQOL, particularly with its physical component, is not surprising, because the 2 measures address closely related constructs; likewise, the superior correlation of the JADI-A with the radiographic score was not unexpected, because both are objective measures of joint damage. Taken together, these findings lead us to recommend that both the JADI and the C-HAQ be incorporated, together with a radiographic score, an HQOL tool, and the traditional indicators of disease activity and severity, in a core set of measures that should be used in every longitudinal observational study in JIA. This would provide a framework to investigate the full range of factors that can promote long-term morbidity and disability in JIA.

Some limitations to this study need mentioning. The validation analysis was cross-sectional and therefore issues of causality, predictive validity over time, and responsiveness to clinically meaningful change remain to be examined. Although the index was designed to be sufficiently comprehensive to cover all JIA subtypes, it may not detect all possible forms of damage in the juvenile spondylarthropathies. Notably, the study sample was composed of consecutive patients who continued to receive care at a tertiary pediatric rheumatology care facility at 5 years after disease onset, leading to a potential overrepresentation of patients with more active disease. However, although many of the patients whose disease entered remission in more recent years were probably discharged, the 21-month time frame for study enrollment led us to include most of the patients with mild disease who attended the study units for their annual review.

Therefore, although our study was not designed as an outcome survey, and thus does not reflect outcomes in JIA patients in general, it provides useful information on the disease status of a large population of JIA patients with longstanding disease who are likely to have benefited from the recent advances in the treatment of the disease, such as the widespread use of methotrexate and intraarticular corticosteroids, the aggressive early introduction of these drugs and/or other disease-modifying antirheumatic medications, and, in recent years, the availability of the newer biologic agents. Our finding that only ∼1% of the patients had severe disability confirms the tendency toward a marked improvement in functional outcome seen in recent studies (4, 5, 35). Nonetheless, the degree of impaired function and irreversible damage observed is still considerable and needs to be improved.

In summary, we have developed a new instrument for the assessment of damage to joints and other organs in patients with JIA that we believe is feasible for measuring long-term outcome in large cohorts and for comparing the long-term effectiveness of diverse treatment strategies in different centers and in different countries. This measure is likely to increase current understanding of the natural history of the disease.

REFERENCES

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. PATIENTS AND METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. REFERENCES
  7. Appenxix A:
  8. Appenxix B:
  • 1
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    Oen K. Long-term outcomes and predictors of outcomes for patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol 2002; 16: 34760.
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Appenxix A:

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. PATIENTS AND METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. REFERENCES
  7. Appenxix A:
  8. Appenxix B:
Table  . The juvenile arthritis damage index for assessment of articular damage (JADI-A) in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis
inline image

Appenxix B:

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. PATIENTS AND METHODS
  4. RESULTS
  5. DISCUSSION
  6. REFERENCES
  7. Appenxix A:
  8. Appenxix B:
Table  . The juvenile arthritis damage index for assessment of extraarticular damage (JADI-E) in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis
inline image
Glossary of terms:

Cataract: a lens opacity (cataract), ever, whether due to corticosteroid therapy or uveitis, documented by ophthalmoscopy.

Ocular complications of uveitis other than cataract: synechiae, band keratopathy, glaucoma, or phthisis bulbi documented by an ophthalmologist, resulting in a loss of vision of at least 1/10.

Muscle atrophy: decreased muscle mass demonstrated on clinical examination.

Osteoporosis with fractures or vertebral collapse: demonstrated by an imaging technique.

Avascular necrosis of bone: demonstrated by any imaging technique.

Significant abnormality of the vertebral curve due to leg-length discrepancy or hip contracture: vertebral scoliosis or increased lumbar lordosis demonstrated on clinical examination or by any imaging technique.

Significant leg-length discrepancy or growth abnormality of a bone segment: inequality of at least 1 cm in the length of the legs or growth defect or overgrowth of any bone segment due to arthritis, demonstrated radiographically.

Striae rubrae: widespread cutaneous purple striae with scarring resulting from steroid toxicity.

Subcutaneous atrophy resulting from intraarticular corticosteroid injection: significant and persistent subcutaneous atrophy in the site of a previous intraarticular corticosteroid injection.

Growth failure: defined as the presence of two of the following three features:

  • 1
    Lower than the 3rd percentile height for age.
  • 2
    Growth velocity over 6 months lower than the 3rd percentile for age.
  • 3
    Crossing at least 2 centiles (5%, 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 95%) on growth chart.

Pubertal delay: delay in development of secondary sexual characteristics greater than 2 standard deviations beyond the mean for age in Tanner staging.

Diabetes mellitus: diabetes mellitus requiring therapy, but regardless of treatment.

Secondary amyloidosis: symptomatic amyloidosis confirmed by examination of tissue sections by Congo red dye.