Background Over the past 10 years Arthritis Ireland has pioneered the development of services that enable people with arthritis to learn about self-management and put self-management tools into practice in their daily lives. Over the past 2 years we have embarked on a significant journey to bring these vital tools to even more people with arthritis through the development of an online education programme – Living Well with Arthritis Online.
Objectives The objectives of the project were to 1)Compare and contrast the pros/cons of conventional class based self-management programmes with that of an online offering; 2) Develop a model of online delivery to attract large numbers of people with arthritis in an engaging format; 3) Develop comprehensive content to improve understanding of the various types of RMDs,the various self-management tools that could form part of a tool kit for daily living and the various medications that are now used to treat RMDs; 4) Develop appropriate mechanisms for reviewing and evaluating the impact of the programme; 5)Develop a comprehensive framework to promote and recruit participants to the programme.
Methods Our journey with self-management began in earnest back in 2006 with the launch of the 6-week “Living Well with Arthritis” Stanford University self-management programme. Since that time we have delivered the programme to over 5,000 people across Ireland in community class settings.
Despite the myriad of benefits to the programme Arthritis Ireland recognises that not everyone approaches learning in the same way so it is important to provide alternative learning formats. We investigated the benefits and challenges of conventional self management courses with an online model. A number of reasons became apparent to us that impacted participation in class-cased programmes - time constraints; unsuitable course hours; location too far away; stigma of attending an “arthritis” course; not feeling comfortable talking about arthritis in a group; face to face course was less appealing to younger people.
In response to these challenges and to meet the growing challenge of how to reach greater numbers of people, Arthritis Ireland developed an online self-management programme – “Living Well with Arthritis Online”. The programme was researched, developed and implemented by Arthritis Ireland during 2014 and 2015. It is designed to 1)improve a person's understanding of their arthritis 2) introduce them to key self-management tools that can be used on a daily basis and 3) improve understanding of the various medications now available to manage arthritis. The programme is highly interactive and learning take place through various video lessons with additional reading material available within each module.
Results By the end of January 2016, over 800 people had registered for the programme within the first 3 months of operation. Results will be collated and findings reported at the 6-month stage.
Conclusions What is clear so far is online education offers a unique learning opportunity to many people who would not otherwise attend a face to face class, at a reduced cost, with minimal ongoing financial outlay.
Disclosure of Interest None declared