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One-year outcomes of a randomized controlled trial of an educational-behavioural joint protection programme for people with rheumatoid arthritis

By A Hammond


Objective. Joint protection aims to reduce pain and local inflammation, preserve the integrity of joint structures and improve function. There is evidence that it can improve pain and function in the short term, but the long‐term effects are uncertain. This study evaluated the effects of joint protection in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Methods. A randomized, controlled, assessor‐blinded trial of duration 1 yr was conducted. Two interventions (both 8 h) were compared: standard arthritis education, including 2.5 h of joint protection education based on typical UK practice; and a joint protection arthritis education programme, using educational–behavioural teaching methods. Assessments were made at entry and 6 and 12 months. Results. Sixty‐five people with RA attended the joint protection programme and 62 the standard programme. The groups were matched for age (51 and 49 yr), disease duration (21 and 17.5 months) and use of non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs and disease‐modifying anti‐rheumatic drugs. In comparison with the standard group, the joint protection group significantly improved with respect to adherence to the joint protection programme (P=0.001), hand pain (P=0.02), general pain (P=0.05), early morning stiffness (P=0.01), self‐reported number of disease flare‐ups (P=0.004), visits to the doctor for arthritis (P<0.01), and the AIMS2 (Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales) activities of daily living scale (P=0.04). A trend to improved swollen joint counts was identified (P=0.07). Within‐group analyses also showed improvements in arthritis self‐efficacy and perceived control. Hand deformity scores continued to increase in both groups. Conclusion. We found significant improvements in adherence, pain, disease status and functional ability amongst those attending the joint protection programme. Benefits became more apparent with time, suggesting that joint protection can help slow the progression of the effects of RA over and above the effects of drug therapy

Topics: R1, health_and_wellbeing
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2001
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