Rheumatologists may substantially overestimate the physical disability imposed on sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research.
This can result in inaccurate evaluations of patients' ability to work and conduct day-to-day tasks, as well as their need for lifestyle modifications.
The study found that physicians consistently rated their patients' ability to conduct tasks, such as walking, dressing and eating, lower than the patients themselves.
In tests, rheumatologists were found to overestimate the level of disability in their patients in 69 per cent of cases.
The doctors were, however, found to assess more accurately the physical limitations experienced by patients with less severe forms of the disease.
John D Carter, the study's co-author, said: "The very physicians deemed to be experts in rheumatoid arthritis failed to make the grade when it came to determining their patients' functional status.
"This discrepancy is important to correct because patients can rely on these assessments for their livelihood or other necessities to perform activities in daily living."