Objectives Health services addressing employment needs for people with arthritis are lacking. To address this need, we developed the Making it Work (MiW) program, an online self-management program aimed at helping people with inflammatory arthritis (IA) deal with employment issues. As part of a randomized controlled trial evaluating program effectiveness, this study reports on participants' experiences with various aspects of the program.
Methods All participants in the MiW program between Jan20 and Dec7 2016 were included. Participants were recruited from rheumatologist practices, outpatient arthritis programs, a national consumer organization (Arthritis Consumer Experts), and community advertisements in BC, Alberta and Ontario. Eligibility criteria included: having IA; being currently employed; age 18–59 yrs; concern about their ability to work; and access to a computer. The program consisted of 5 online self-learning modules, 5 online group meetings facilitated by a vocational counsellor, an individual ergonomic assessment by an occupational therapist and an online session with a vocational counsellor. Feedback questionnaires were administered online after participants completed the program. Descriptive analyses were performed.
Results The sample included 69 participants [80% female; mean (SD) age: 45.3 (10.5) yrs; 83% Caucasian; 91% with post-secondary education; 52% with RA, AS: 19%, SLE: 17%; PsA: 12%]. Overall, participants expressed satisfaction with the program with 94.2% agreeing (69.6% strongly and 24.6% somewhat) they would recommend this program to someone they know. When asked to rate program components on a scale of 0–10 where 0=not useful at all and 10=very useful, participants rated all components favourably: median [25Q;75Q] for online modules: 8 [7;10], with highest ratings for the fatigue module (rated 10 by 42%); online group meetings: 9 [7.5;10]; ergonomic and VRC assessments: 8 [7;10] each. Although participants had 2 weeks between meetings to complete the module, 55% did the module the week of, and 42% the day before, the group meeting. Median time to complete each module was 60 min. 81% enjoyed being able to listen to the information (somewhat or strongly agreed), although 35% stated they would have preferred to read the information than listen to a narrator. 74% expect to use the online modules again in the future. Participants were also satisfied with the online group meetings: 93% were very or somewhat satisfied with the group facilitation; 87% satisfied with the group dynamic; 84% comfortable with the online format. When asked to rate their online group meeting experience on a scale of 1 to 10, median [25Q;75Q] ratings for: ability to follow group discussion was 10 [9;10]; getting to know other participants: 7 [7;10]; feeling listened to and understood 9 [8;10]; feeling that group was supportive 9 [7;10]. 20% said it was difficult for them to attend group meetings.
Conclusions In general, participants were highly satisfied with all aspects of the MiW program. Our study demonstrates that self-management programs, including group meetings, can be successfully delivered using an online format, which facilitates wider dissemination, with greater convenience to patients, and at lower costs.
Disclosure of Interest None declared
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