Aim: The aim of this systematic review is to summarise the available evidence on the effectiveness of assistive technology for adults with rheumatoid arthritis in terms of improving functional ability and reducing pain, and to assess potential adverse effects related to device use.
Methods: In this review, randomised controlled trials, clinical controlled trials, controlled before and after studies and interrupted time series available through systematic searches (electronic databases, grey literature, contact with authors, reference lists) up to October 2008 were included. Two reviewers independently selected trials for inclusion, assessed the validity of included trials, and extracted data. Investigators were contacted to obtain missing information.
Results: Out of 7177 hits, 13 articles were reviewed in full text and only one trial was finally included (N.=29). The study was a randomised crossover trial, in which the use of an eye drop device was compared to a standard bottle in people with rheumatoid arthritis suffering from persistent dry eyes. The results show that the eye drop device improved application of eye drops and prevented adverse effects in terms of touching the eye with the bottle tip. The study was considered to have low quality of evidence.
Conclusion: Since only one trial met the inclusion criteria for this review, there is very limited evidence for the effect of assistive technology for adults with rheumatoid arthritis. There is an urgent need for high-quality research in this field, in order to reach sufficient evidence on the effectiveness of this commonly used intervention.