The effect of a comprehensive occupational therapy intervention programme on the occupational performance of people with rheumatoid arthritis, living in Soweto

Dreijer du Plessis, Carin
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ABSTRACT: THE EFFECT OF A COMPREHENSIVE OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY INTERVENTION PROGRAMME ON THE OCCUPATIONAL PERFORMANCE OF PEOPLE WITH RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, LIVING IN SOWETO. C Dreijer du Plessis Post-graduate student, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa Introduction: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic disabling joint disease. Empowering patients with RA to self manage the disease can lead to changes in behaviour, pain or physical health and psychosocial health status. Limited evidence exists for the efficacy of comprehensive Occupational Therapy (OT) intervention for patients with RA in improving functional ability. Objective: The primary objective of the study was to evaluate the impact of comprehensive OT intervention on patients with RA in producing a sustained improvement in patients' functional ability. Methods: A prospective randomized control study over 4 months in which patients with moderately disabling RA, following a week of in-patient rehabilitation care, received either home visits and focus group care (group 1) or standard care (group 2). Primary outcome measures included the modified Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (HAQ-DI), Disease activity score (DAS28) and SF- 36 scores. Results: There were 29 and 22 patients in each group, respectively. The HAQ-DI improved significantly in both groups following the 1 week in-patient care (p<0.05) and there was a clinically significant difference between the groups at the 4 months follow-up visit. The SF-36 scores did not change significantly for group 1 while group 2 showed significant improvements in 5 of the 8 domains at four months. However, group 2, had significantly worse SF-36 scores at baseline compared to group 1. There was a significant improvement in disease activity with the experimental group having 25% fewer tender joints. During the focus groups,the two main themes of "behavior and self management" and "problems that interfere with occupational performance" emerged. Conclusion: A comprehensive in-patient occupational therapy programme does lead to sustained significant improvement in functional ability and Health related quality of life (HR-QOL). Focus groups and home based intervention appears to have a clinically significant impact on disease activity. Key words: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Comprehensive Occupational Therapy intervention, Home based intervention, Occupational Performance.
rheumatoid arthritis , comprehensive occupational therapy intervention , home based intervention , occupational performance