Objective: To develop and evaluate the effect of a new arthritis education program based on a previous study.
Methods: One hundred individuals with established rheumatoid arthritis randomized to an intervention group or a control group completed self-report questionnaires.
Results: Three months after the education program the patients in the intervention group had increased their knowledge about their disease. They reported increased practice of exercise and joint protection and reduction of disability and pain. After 12 months, increased knowledge and practice of joint protection was maintained. However, there was no longer any difference between the intervention group and the control group regarding reported pain, disability, and practice of exercise. At both intervals the individuals in the intervention group reported an increased ability to handle their pain and a reduction of problems with their disease. The control group remained stable except for a slight increase in pain.
Conclusion: A structured patient education program had positive impact for 3 months, and some improvements were maintained for 12 months. We suggest that patient education should become an integrated part of the total management of rheumatoid arthritis.