Background Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, akin to type 2 diabetes. However, screening for, management of, and education about co-morbidities is not always adequate and as a result, the co-morbid risks may be overlooked by the general public, some health professionals and policymakers alike. Dr. John originally developed and piloted a programme in group format in Dudley to educate RA patients about their cardiovascular risk and help them change their lifestyle to improve their health; it achieved promising results. The format however limited the number of people who could access it and NRAS wanted to make it as widely available as possible. The sad reality is that it is not unusual to meet someone with RA who does not realise that they are at an increased risk of heart disease, so they are far less likely to address factors such as smoking, weight and diet which are firmly within their control.
Objectives Our aim was to create an engaging and interactive online programme to educate people with RA about heart disease and atherosclerosis. This programme should; explain in simple terms why they are at increased risk; include the opportunity to determine individual risk factors thereby allowing a QRISK2 score to be performed; provide a cognitive-behavioural framework to empower people to change their behaviours and achieve a healthier lifestyle, thereby reducing risk of premature death from heart disease.
Methods The participant manual created for the group programme and working closely with Dr. John and other health professionals in Dudley (exercise physiologist, smoking cessation nurse, dietician, health psychologist) and patients who had attended the programme, we explored with our creative film production team the best way to adapt this to create a really engaging on-line experience which would allow participants to undertake the programme over time whilst working through the behaviour change goal-setting process. Two days of filming were done in Dudley and Maidenhead followed by a period of editing, additional recording and review. Beta testing of the programme will be conducted in February, piloting in March and launch anticipated for April 2017.
Results Evaluation of both the programme and the potential to change health behaviours will be measured on completion of the programme and actual behaviour change will be measured at 6 months.
Quote from a patient who participated in the face to face programme: “Before I did this programme I thought that I was doing pretty well in terms of diet and exercise but it showed me that there was a lot I wasn't aware of, that my knowledge of lifestyle factors wasn't adequate and I needed to do more to help myself. I found it a valuable and life-changing experience to do this programme.”
Conclusions We are very excited about the launch of this programme as it is an important new resource addressing the major co-morbidity which shortens the lives of those with RA. It is unique in that not only does it provide patient education, but it also provides a structure through which patient can change their behaviour. Furthermore, it also illustrates what can be achieved when patient-led charity organisations work alongside healthcare professionals; we are hugely excited by its potential.
Disclosure of Interest None declared
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