Objective: The objective of this study was to test the effectiveness of a mail-delivered, tailored self-management intervention (SMART) and to compare it with the classic Arthritis Self-Management Program (ASMP).
Methods: We performed 2 randomized controlled trials: 1) a study of 1090 participants randomized to SMART or USUAL CARE, and 2) a study of 341 participants randomized to SMART or ASMP. Dependent variables included disability, pain, depression, role function, global severity, doctor visits, and self-efficacy. SMART interventions were provided in months 0-18 and not reinforced. Results were assessed at 1, 2, and 3 years using analyses of covariance (ANCOVA).
Results: Compared with USUAL CARE, SMART participants at 1 year had decreased disability, improved role function, and increased self-efficacy (all P <0.01). At 2 years, decreases in global severity, doctor visits, and increases in self-efficacy (all P <0.01) were noted. At 3 years without reinforcement, no statistically significant effects remained. Compared with ASMP, SMART at 1 year had greater decreases in disability (P = 0.02) and increases in self-efficacy (P = 0.01). There were no differences at 2 years. At 3 years, role function (P = 0.04) and doctor visit (P = 0.03) were improved in ASMP as compared with SMART. Improvements from baseline were seen for nearly all variables in both groups.
Conclusions: A mail-delivered arthritis self-management program, SMART, was similarly effective to the classic ASMP, with slightly better results in the first year and a slightly more rapid attenuation over the next 2 years. Results suggest that both programs are effective, and that the addition of a mail-delivered program could improve accessibility to arthritis self-management treatment.