Self-management Program Beneficial for Arthritis

Posted 6/17/08

A new two-week program significantly reduces health-care visits, pain scores and health distress in arthritis patients with chronic pain. Results were comparable to existing six-week self-management programs and the benefits of the program were sustained for six months with improvements continuing up to a year later, according to researchers.

Devised by the UK charity Arthritis Care and pain specialists at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK, the “Challenging Pain” program enrolled 186 patients into 18 workshop groups. Each workshop consisted of two half-day sessions on consecutive weeks, with tutorship on a range of pain management techniques, including relaxation, stress management and exercise, as well as strategies for managing fatigue.

The program’s effectiveness was assessed by questionnaires and focus group discussions with the course participants at 6 and 12 month follow-up. Pain scores, doctor visits, health distress and self-efficacy all improved. All results were sustained at 6 months’ follow-up and continued to improve at 12 months.

Janet Cowlard, who led the study in conjunction with physicians at Derriford Hospital, said: "We devised this programme to try to ease the burden of chronic pain in patients with arthritis and other long-term pain conditions, whilst offering a faster and more cost effective management approach. Our new programme, which was offered free of charge to patients, equipped them with the practical skills and techniques to help combat their pain, whilst also giving them an empowering sense of control and confidence in their own disease management. Achieving sustained results 6 and 12 months after a short course offers great promise for both arthritis patients and healthcare providers alike. Arthritis Care has now begun a UK-wide rollout of the programme, and a similar roll-out is beginning in Australia. We are delighted to share our results at the international forum of EULAR, as centres across other countries might be similarly inspired by our results"

This article was adapted from a press release issued by EULAR.

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