Editorials

Patient education programmes for adults with rheumatoid arthritis

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7364.558 (Published 14 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:558

Benefits are small and short lived

  1. Robert P Riemsma, reviews manager (rpr1@york.ac.uk),
  2. Erik Taal, assistant professor,
  3. John R Kirwan, consultant in rheumatology,
  4. Johannes J Rasker, professsor in psychological aspects of rheumatic diseases
  1. NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, York YO10 5DD
  2. Department of Communication Studies, University of Twente, Postbus 217, 7500AE Enschede, Netherlands
  3. Rheumatology Unit, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol
  4. Department of Rheumatology, Medisch Spectrum Twente, Enschede, Netherlands

    As with other chronic diseases, no cure is available for most types of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, the course of the disease is often unpredictable, and the symptoms can vary from day to day or even from hour to hour. Because of the nature of pain and disability, the partial and inconsistent effects of treatment, and the unpredictability that people with arthritis face on a daily basis, education programmes for patients have become a complement to traditional medical treatment.1 These programmes have given people with arthritis the strategies and tools necessary to make daily decisions to cope with the disease.2 3

    From the available literature, the effectiveness of educational interventions for people with rheumatoid arthritis and the clinical relevance of the benefits are still unclear. It is also unclear what specific types of educational interventions are most effective in improving health status for patients with chronic diseases.4Educational strategies can vary from the provision of information only to the use …

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