Objective: To determine whether therapeutic education added to conventional drug therapy reduced disability and pain in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Fourty-three patients with RA, 29F/14 M, were included in a randomized, controlled trial and assigned to a control group receiving conventional pharmacological treatment only (n=21), or an intervention group receiving therapeutic education added to conventional pharmacological treatment (n=22). The main outcome variable was self-reported disability on the Stanford health assessment questionnaire (HAQ).
Results: At 18 months, patients in the intervention group had less disability (HAQ), pain intensity, number of tender and swollen joints, and patient's and physician's global assessments (p=0.003, 0.031, 0.003, 0.001, 0.014, and 0.004, respectively) compared with baseline, and improvements in disability and number of tender and swollen joints (p=0.024, 0.040, and 0.003, respectively), compared with controls.
Conclusions: Patients receiving pharmacological treatment and therapeutic education had a better evolution than those receiving only pharmacological treatment.