Physicians or researchers working in the field of rheumatology will recognise the problem of monitoring disease progression in rheumatoid arthritis patients. There is a need for a set of measures representing the whole spectrum of the disease. In the past years researchers all over the world have met in several consensus meetings to define a 'core set' of disease activity measures.
This handbook has been developed to give a practical overview of the EULAR recommendations of the measures and the measurement techniques. Apart from core set measures we will discuss indices of disease activity as a method to depict the course of the disease. Indices of disease activity are developed to combine disease activity measures into a single expression of disease activity. Core set measures and disease activity indices express the disease course numerically. Criteria have been developed to enable a standardised interpretation of these numbers. A special measure concerns the remission criteria. These criteria define the absence (or a very low level) of disease activity, which should be present in a patient for a certain minimal period of time. Also included in this handbook are the original references for the measurement techniques and specific forms and questionnaires for use in prospective studies and clinical practice.