Aim: The goal of occupational therapy (OT) is to facilitate adjustments to lifestyle and to prevent function loss. This study evaluated the effects of an early OT programme in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: We conducted a randomised, blind, controlled trial enrolling 60 patients with early RA, divided into 2 groups. At baseline, group 1 received the full information programme and group 2 received no information. In an extension phase, patients in group 2 received the full information programme at 3 months and were assessed at 6 months. The main outcomes were grip strength of hands (as objective assessment) and Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) score (as subjective assessment).
Results: At 3 months, grip strength of the dominant and non-dominant hands increased more in group 1 than in group 2 (p = 0.021 and 0.047 respectively). HAQ score decreased more in group 1 than in group 2 (p<0.001). In the extension phase, changes in grip strength and HAQ score in group 2 were similar to those seen in group 1 between baseline and 3 months.
Conclusions: This study comparing two schedules of OT programme showed that an early extended information programme improved hand function in patients with early RA.
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Competing interests: None declared.
Funding: This work was supported by the Délégation à la Recherche des Hospices Civils de Lyon.
Ethics approval: Ethics approval was obtained.