Development and Testing of Cardiovascular Quality Indicators for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis with a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) related deaths. Traditional CVD risk factors including smoking, hypertension and diabetes may be under-identified and/or undertreated in RA, indicating a gap in care. Quality indicators (QIs) are an important tool for quality improvement and are lacking in this area. The objectives of this dissertation were to: (1) identify existing recommendations pertaining to screening and management of CVD risk in RA; (2) to develop a set of CVD QIs for RA based on the best practices; and (3) to test the QIs in clinical practice. A systematic review of existing CVD QIs and guidelines was conducted (Study 1). All CVD recommendations from high quality guidelines and relevant quality measures were abstracted and best practices in RA were identified. In Study 2, a panel of cardiologists and rheumatologists developed a set of CVD QIs for RA based on best the practices identified. The QIs were presented to an international panel of experts through a novel online modified Delphi process where they were rated and discussed over 3 rounds. In the final study, performance on the CVD QIs was evaluated in 170 early and biologic treated RA patients. Based on the process described above, 11 CVD QIs for RA were developed and were rated as highly relevant and valid by our international panel of experts. This was the first time the online platform was used for QI development and it demonstrated many advantages. Performance on the QIs from our cohort suggests under screening and inconsistent management of CVD risk factors. Also evident, was that our patients had a high burden of obesity, hypertension and smoking, suggesting this is a clinically meaningful gap in care. The primary area for future improvement was noted for QIs relating to communication of CVD risk and coordination of care between rheumatology and primary care. Therefore, future efforts should focus on improving coordination of CVD care as well as improving efficiency of QI measurement and reporting for timely and effective improvements in CVD care.
Epidemiology, Medicine and Surgery
Barber, C. (2015). Development and Testing of Cardiovascular Quality Indicators for Rheumatoid Arthritis (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/25646