Pain is inherent in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and spondyloarthritis (SpA) and traditionally considered to be of nociceptive origin. Emerging data suggest a potential role of augmented central pain mechanisms in subsets of patients, thus, valid instruments that can identify underlying pain mechanisms are needed. The painDETECT questionnaire (PDQ) was originally designed to differentiate between pain phenotypes. The objectives were to evaluate the psychometric properties of the PDQ in patients with inflammatory arthritis by applying Rasch analysis and to explore the reliability of pain classification by test-retest.
For the Rasch analysis 900 questionnaires from patients with RA, PsA and SpA (300 per diagnosis) were extracted from 'the DANBIO painDETECT study'. The analysis was directed at the seven items assessing somatosensory symptoms and included: 1) the performance of the six-category Likert scale; 2) whether a unidimensional construct was defined; 3) the reliability and precision of estimates. Another group of 30 patients diagnosed with RA, PsA or SpA participated in a test-retest study. Intraclass Correlation Coefficients (ICC) and classification consistency were calculated.
The Rasch analysis revealed: (1) Acceptable psychometric rating scale properties; the frequency distribution peaked in category 0 except for item 5, threshold calibration >10 observations per category, no disorder in the category measures for all items, scale category outfit Mnsq <2.0, small distances (<1.4 logits) between thresholds for category 1, 2 and 3 for all items. (2) The principal component analysis supported unidimensionality; the standardized residuals showed that 53.7% of total variance was explained by the measure and the magnitude of first contrast had an eigenvalue of 1.5, no misfitting items, clinical insignificant different item hierarchies across diagnoses (DIF < 0.5 logits). (3) A targeted item-person map, person and item separation indices of 1.88(reliability = 0.78), and 13.04 (reliability = 0.99). The test-retest revealed: ICC: RA 0.86(0.56-0.96), PsA 0.96(0.74-0.99), SpA 0.93(0.76-98), overall 0.94(0.84-0.98). Classification consistency was: RA 70%, PsA 80%, SpA 90%, overall 80%.
The results support that the PDQ can be used as a classification instrument and assist identification of underlying pain-mechanisms in patients suffering from inflammatory arthritis.