Development of a tool for early referral of children and adolescents with signs and symptoms suggestive of chronic arthropathy to pediatric rheumatology centers




To develop an easy, time-efficient tool to identify children and adolescents with signs and symptoms suggestive of chronic arthropathies, and to evaluate its interobserver reproducibility and reliability.


The instrument used standardized techniques as required for the development of health-related instruments, targeting parents of apparently healthy children and adolescents ages 1–16 years. A multidisciplinary team was involved in the design of the instrument.


Each health professional generated 10–15 questions addressing musculoskeletal complaints that they considered to be the most relevant. A total of 60 questions were listed. During the reduction step, each health professional scored questions from 1 to 4 according to the question's relevance. The tool comprised 12 questions and was administered to the parents of 3 groups: patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA; n = 48), children with diffuse musculoskeletal pain (n = 39), and a healthy control group (n = 42). The JIA group achieved the highest scores, followed by the diffuse musculoskeletal pain group and the control group. Nine (18.7%) of 48 patients with JIA and 2 (5.1%) of 39 children with musculoskeletal pain had a score of 5. The interobserver reproducibility was confirmed. All 12 questions were included in the final version of the instrument. We determined that children and adolescents with a score ≥5 should be referred for a rheumatologic evaluation (cluster analysis and logistic regression).


Our questionnaire seems to be a useful tool for the early detection of musculoskeletal problems in children that may need a referral for a rheumatologic evaluation.