OBJECTIVES: To assess variation in and determinants of rheumatologist guideline adherence in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), in daily practice.
METHODS: In this retrospective observational study, guideline adherence in the first year of treatment was assessed for 7 predefined parameters on diagnostics, treatment and follow-up in all adult patients with RA with a first outpatient clinic visit at the study centre, from September 2009 to March 2011. Variation in guideline adherence was assessed on parameter and rheumatologist level. Determinants for guideline adherence were assessed in patients (demographic characteristics, rheumatoid factor (RF) and/or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (aCCP) positivity, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, erosive disease, comorbidity and the number of available disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) treatment options) and rheumatologists (demographic and practice characteristics, guideline knowledge and agreement, outcome expectancy, cognitive bias, thinking style, numeracy and personality).
RESULTS: A total of 994 visits in 137 patients with RA were reviewed. Variation in guideline adherence among parameters was present (adherence between 21% and 72%), with referral to the physician assistant as lowest scoring and referral to a specialised nurse as highest scoring parameter. Variation in guideline adherence among rheumatologists was also present (adherence between 22% and 100%). Patient sex, the number of DMARD options, presence of erosions, comorbidity, RF/aCCP positivity, type of patient and the rheumatologists' scientific education status were associated with adherence to 1 or more guideline parameters.
CONCLUSIONS: Guideline adherence varied considerably among the guideline parameters and rheumatologists, showing that there is room for improvement. Guideline adherence in our sample was related to several patient and rheumatologist determinants.