Evaluation of a website providing information on regional health care services for patients with rheumatoid arthritis: an observational study

Clin Rheumatol. 2012 Apr;31(4):637-45. doi: 10.1007/s10067-011-1897-9. Epub 2011 Dec 13.


Studies on the effectiveness of information provision for patients with arthritis through the Internet are scarce. This study aimed to describe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients' knowledge and information needs before and after launching a website providing information on regional health care services for patients with rheumatic conditions. The intervention consisted of a weekly updated website comprising practical information on regional health care services for patients with arthritis. In addition, patients were offered information leaflets and an information meeting. Before (T1) and 24 months after (T2) the website was launched, a random sample of 400 RA patients filled in a questionnaire regarding knowledge and information need (scores 0-18) about accessibility and contents of 18 regional health care services. Two hundred and fifty-one patients returned the questionnaire (response rate 63%) at T1 and 200 patients (50%) at T2, respectively, with 160 paired observations (112 females (70%), mean age 60.4 years (SD 9.9)). The total score for insufficient knowledge about contents decreased from 9.3 (SD 4.9) to 8.5 (SD 4.8; p = 0.03) and for accessibility from 8.6 (SD 4.7) to 8.4 (SD 4.9; p = 0.59). Total score for information need about contents decreased from 4.2 (SD 4.5) to 1.9 (SD 2.9; p < 0.01) and for accessibility from 3.6 (SD 4.5) to 1.4 (SD 2.4; p < 0.01) (paired t-tests).After the administration of a website comprising practical health care information, RA patients' information need and to a lesser extent their perception of having insufficient knowledge on relevant regional health care services decreased significantly. The results of this descriptive study suggest that the use of the Internet to inform patients may be effective, although controlled studies are required to evaluate and optimize web-delivered information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires