Gap between short- and long-term effects of patient education in rheumatoid arthritis patients: a systematic review

Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Jun 15;51(3):388-98. doi: 10.1002/art.20399.


Objective: To systematically review educational or psychoeducational interventions for patients with rheumatoid arthritis focusing on long-term effects, especially health status.

Methods: Two independent reviewers appraised the methodologic quality of the included randomized controlled trials, published between 1980 and July 2002.

Results: Validity scores of studies ranged from 3 to 9 (of 11). The 7 educational programs mainly improved knowledge and compliance in the short and long term, but there was no improvement in health status. All 4 psychoeducational programs improved coping behavior in the short term, 2 of them showing a positive long-term effect on physical or psychological health variables.

Conclusion: Methodologically better-designed studies had more difficulties demonstrating positive outcome results. Short-term effects in program targets are generally observed, whereas long-term changes in health status are not convincingly demonstrated. There is a need to find better strategies to enhance the transfer of short-term effects into gains in health status.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods
  • Time Factors