Evaluation of a disease specific rheumatoid arthritis self-management education program, a single group repeated measures study

Vironique Vermaak, N Kathy Briffa, Bob Langlands, Charles Inderjeeth, Jean McQuade
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2015, 16: 214

BACKGROUND: Rheumatoid Arthritis is a progressive and disabling disease, predicted to increase in prevalence over the next 50 years. Self-management is acknowledged as an integral part in the management of chronic disease. The rheumatoid arthritis specific self-management program delivered by health professionals was developed by Arthritis Western Australia in 2006. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this program would achieve early benefits in health related outcomes, and whether these improvements would be maintained for 12 months.

METHODS: Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis were referred from rheumatologists. Participants with co-existing inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions were excluded. All participants completed a 6-week program. Assessments occurred at baseline (8 weeks prior to intervention), pre-intervention, post-intervention, and 6 and 12 month follow ups. Outcomes measured included pain and fatigue (numerical rating scale, 0-10), depression and anxiety (hospital anxiety and depression questionnaire), health distress, and quality of life (SF-36 version 2).

RESULTS: There were significant improvements in mean [SD] fatigue (5.7 [2.4] to 5.1 [2.6]), depression (6.3 [4.3] to 5.6 [3.9]) and SF-36 mental health (44.5 [11.1] to 46.5 [9.5]) immediately following intervention, with long term benefits for depression (6.3 [4.3] to 4.9 [3.9]), and SF-36 subscales mental health (44.5 [11.1] to 47.8 [10.9]), role emotional (41.5 [13.2] to 46.5 [11.8]), role physical (35.0 [11.0] to 40.2 [12.1]) and physical function (34.8 [11.5] to 38.6 [10.7]).

CONCLUSION: Participants in the program recorded significant improvements in depression and mental health post-intervention, which were maintained to 12 months follow up.

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