Research has enhanced quality of life for arthritis patients

Research carried out by academic colleagues has helped to enhance quality of life for arthritis patients.

With one in five of the adult population in the UK living with arthritis, self-management education is a key support approach used by occupational therapists (OTs).

Professor Alison Hammond, from the School of Health Sciences, has worked on improving the tools available to OTs to deliver more effective self-management education.

This involved supporting patients in managing their pain and fatigue, improving their psychological resilience, helping them to remain in work and continue taking part in leisure activities.

There was also a focus on supporting OTs in delivering effective self-management services and improving the availability of self-management services for people with arthritis, through evidence-informed policy and strategy.

Programmes used by Alison to train more than 200 OTs are now being used in rheumatology departments across England, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Evaluations have shown that the training programme increases confidence in teaching, using cognitive-behavioural approaches.

Alison and colleagues have also developed and tested a brief work rehabilitation programme to support employed people with arthritis remaining in work;  are developing outcome measures for use in Rheumatology OT; and conducting trials of hand therapies in arthritis.

Between 0.5 and one per cent of the population suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which causes significant pain, debilitating fatigue, joint deformity and psychological distress.

RA affects people’s abilities to perform everyday activities and causes work disability, which can reduce financial status.

Alison was a member of the NICE Guideline Development Group, which defined national guidelines for  the management of rheumatoid arthritis in adults.

The guidelines include the recommendation that people with RA should have access to specialist rheumatology OT for assessment and periodic review for patients experiencing problems with everyday activities.

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