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Effect of assistive technology in hand osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled trial
  1. Ingvild Kjeken1,
  2. Siri Darre2,
  3. Geir Smedslund1,
  4. Kåre Birger Hagen1,
  5. Randi Nossum2
  1. 1National Resource Center for Rehabilitation in Rheumatology, Department of Rheumatology, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of Rheumatology, St Olav's Hospital, Trondheim, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Ingvild Kjeken, National Resource Center for Rehabilitation in Rheumatology, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, PO Box 23, Vinderen, NO-0319 Oslo, Norway; ingvild.kjeken{at}


Objective Hand osteoarthritis (HOA) is a common joint disorder with an expected rise in prevalence due to the increasing ageing population, but with few available effective treatment options. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of assistive technology (AT) in patients with HOA.

Methods In this observer-blinded, randomised controlled trial, 35 patients with HOA (AT group) received provision of information and AT (assistive devices and splints), while 35 patients received information only (control group). Primary outcomes were activity performance and satisfaction with performance, measured by the Canadian occupational performance measure (COPM) on a 1–10 scale. Secondary outcomes included measures of disease activity, pain, fatigue and function. Outcome assessments were made at 3 months follow-up.

Results Of 70 participants randomised, 66 participants completed all assessments. Provision of AT was associated with improvement in the COPM performance score (mean difference (95% CI) in change scores 1.8 (1.1 to 2.6) and in the satisfaction score (1.7 (0.7 to 2.6)), indicating a moderate to large treatment effect (effect sizes 0.9). There was a significant improvement in the Australian/Canadian hand index function score in the AT group after 3 months (−0.4, p<0.001), and an adjusted mean difference between groups of −0.3 (p=0.06, effect size −0.5). No other differences were found in the secondary outcomes. Self-reported AT usage rate in the AT group was 92%, and participants rated their comfort with AT usage as high.

Conclusions Use of AT is well tolerated and significantly improves activity performance and satisfaction with performance in patients with HOA.

The trial is registered in the ISRCTN register (ISRCTN40357804).

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  • Funding Financial support for the study was provided by the Norwegian Occupational Therapy Association and by Oslo Revmatikerforening.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval The study was conducted with the approval of the Norwegian Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics and the Data Inspectorate.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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