Beattie KA et al. – Following a very short training period, family physicians and nurse practitioners appear to be able to employ the GALS exam as a screening tool for RA signs and symptoms – particularly for identifying an individual with positive results who will benefit from further investigation or rheumatology referral.Methods
- Participating healthcare professionals, including two rheumatologists, three family physicians and three nurse practitioners, were trained to perform the GALS exam by viewing an instructional DVD and attending a training workshop.
- One week after training, healthcare professionals performed the GALS exam on 20 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and 21 individuals without rheumatoid arthritis.
- All participants were recruited through two rheumatology practices.
- Each participant was assessed by four healthcare professionals.
- Healthcare professionals were asked to record whether observed signs and symptoms were potentially consistent with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Healthcare professionals understood the study's objective to be their agreement on GALS findings amongst one another and were unaware that half the participants had rheumatoid arthritis.
- Sensitivity and specificity were calculated to determine the ability of the GALS examination to screen for rheumatoid arthritis using the rheumatologist as the standard for comparison.
- For the 3 family physicians, sensitivity values varied from 60–100% and specificity values varied from 70–82%.
- For the 3 nurse practitioners, sensitivity values varied from 60–90% and specificity values varied from 73–100%.