Outcomes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis receiving rehabilitation

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2005 Mar;17(2):172-6. doi: 10.1097/01.bor.0000151401.11028.88.


Purpose of review: Rehabilitation, including physical therapy and occupational therapy, complements drug therapy in the management of symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Approximately 26% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis receive a referral for rehabilitation by rheumatologists. This review summarizes findings on the effectiveness and economic outcomes of physical therapy and occupational therapy in managing rheumatoid arthritis.

Recent findings: Studies evaluating the outcomes of various service delivery models for physical therapy and occupational therapy demonstrate improvements, especially in physical function, among people with rheumatoid arthritis. A recent pilot study examining the primary therapist model also suggests that the primary therapist model may be a viable option for delivering rheumatoid arthritis rehabilitation services. However, the evidence on other alternative models such as the physical therapy/occupational therapy practitioner model is limited. Only a few economic evaluations have been performed, and among those, none examine the cost-effectiveness of different service models.

Summary: Systematically interpreting the findings of service delivery models in rehabilitation is challenging because of the wide range of interventions and outcome measures used. A thorough understanding of the value of different rehabilitation models will require the guidance of a sound evaluation framework. Future clinical trials should consider including a component for evaluating cost-effectiveness. Such knowledge can contribute to evidence-informed resource allocation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / economics
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / rehabilitation*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Treatment Outcome