Objective: This study was performed to determine the compliance with the basic treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA; medication, physical therapy, and ergonomic measures), to study psychological factors that influence compliance in light of the social learning theory, to learn whether patient education positively influences compliance and health, and to find an approach to patient education that improves compliance.
Methods: A MEDLINE search of the English language literature was performed.
Results: Few studies have dealt with compliance in RA patients; levels of adherence are generally low. According to the social learning theory, human function involves a continuous interaction between behavior, personal factors, and external environment. Self-efficacy is a personal factor that refers to the belief in one's capabilities and opportunities for being compliant with treatment advice. Patient education may improve ergonomic performance and compliance with physical exercise programs.
Conclusions: Compliance with medication was infrequently studied. Whether improved compliance leads to better health status could not be determined. Compliance with RA treatments are generally low. Systematic study of the effect of patient education on treatment and health is warranted. Self-efficacy enhancing techniques in patient education may improve compliance.