Purpose: Joint protection (JP) education is a common feature in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment programs. However, no objective studies have been published demonstrating patients' behavior changes following such education. This study evaluated whether RA patients' hand movement patterns altered following a JP education program.
Methods: An assessment procedure was constructed to assess application of four JP principles related to altering patterns of hand use during common everyday activities (making a hot drink and snack meal).
Results: Eleven RA patients were assessed. There was no significant behavioral change at 6 weeks post-JP education (t = 10; P > 0.1). In contrast, follow-up interviews of self-perceived JP behavior showed all subjects considered JP relevant for them and seven believed they had changed to using these techniques.
Conclusions: This suggests education led to attitudinal change but that behavioral change requires longer and more targeted input than is currently normally provided.