Randomized Controlled Trial to Evaluate an Internet-Based Self-Management Program in Systemic Sclerosis

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2019 Mar;71(3):435-447. doi: 10.1002/acr.23595. Epub 2019 Feb 5.


Objective: In a pilot study, our group showed that an internet-based self-management program improves self-efficacy in systemic sclerosis (SSc). The objective of the current study was to compare an internet-based self-management program to a patient-focused educational book developed to assess measures of self-efficacy and other patient-reported outcomes in patients with SSc.

Methods: We conducted a 16-week randomized, controlled trial.

Results: Of the 267 participants who completed baseline questionnaires and were randomized to the intervention (internet: www.selfmanagescleroderma.com) or control (book) group, 123 participants (93%) in the internet group and 124 participants (94%) in the control group completed the 16-week randomized controlled trial (RCT). The mean ± SD age of all participants was 53.7 ± 11.7 years, 91% were women, and 79.4% had some college or a higher degree. The mean ± SD disease duration after diagnosis of SSc was 8.97 ± 8.50 years. There were no statistical differences between the 2 groups for the primary outcome measure (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Self-Efficacy for Managing Symptoms: mean change of 0.35 in the internet group versus 0.94 in the control group; P = 0.47) and secondary outcome measures, except the EuroQol 5-domain instrument visual analog scale score (P = 0.05). Internet group participants agreed that the self-management modules were of importance to them, the information was presented clearly, and the website was easy to use and at an appropriate reading level.

Conclusion: Our RCT showed that the internet-based self-management website was not statistically superior to an educational patient-focused book in improving self-efficacy and other measures. The participants were enthusiastic about the content and presentation of the self-management website.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02494401.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet / standards*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / psychology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / therapy*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Self Care / standards*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Self-Management / methods*
  • Self-Management / psychology

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02494401