Group education for rheumatoid arthritis patients

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1997 Jun;26(6):805-16. doi: 10.1016/s0049-0172(97)80024-8.


This article reviews the effectiveness of group education programs in improving the knowledge, behavior, and health status of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and evaluates to what extent various programs fulfill certain criteria for educational self-management programs. Thirty-one studies are reviewed: in 12, patients with various rheumatic diseases including RA were included, and in 19, only RA patients were studied. Group education increased the knowledge of the participants, which was maintained over long intervals. Beneficial behavioral effects were found in mixed populations but less often found in RA patients. Group education often improved physical health status both in mixed and in RA populations, but seldom led to improved psychosocial health status. In general, the beneficial effects of group education were found more often in mixed populations than in strictly RA patients. Further investigations must examine which mechanisms make educational interventions effective and determine the types of interventions or combinations of interventions that are effective. Effects of group education on health status are almost never maintained over long intervals. More research is needed to develop strategies for maintaining and enhancing early gains from group education.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards
  • Program Evaluation