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Group cognitive-behavioural programme to reduce the impact of rheumatoid arthritis fatigue: the RAFT RCT with economic and qualitative evaluations

Hewlett, Sarah, Almeida, Celia, Ambler, Nicholas, Blair, Peter S, Choy, Ernest, Dures, Emma, Hammond, Alison, Hollingworth, William, Kadir, Bryar, Kirwan, John, Plummer, Zoe, Rooke, Clive, Thorn, Joanna, Turner, Nicholas and Pollock, Jonathan 2019. Group cognitive-behavioural programme to reduce the impact of rheumatoid arthritis fatigue: the RAFT RCT with economic and qualitative evaluations. Health Technology Assessment 23 (57) , p. 1. 10.3310/hta23570

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Abstract

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a lifelong inflammatory condition affecting multiple joints, with fatigue as a major consequence. Cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) helps patients work out links between symptoms, behaviours and thoughts driving those behaviours (e.g. why someone pushes on when exhausted), and understanding these links helps patients make changes. A CBT programme for groups of RA patients, facilitated by a psychologist, reduces fatigue impact. However, few rheumatology teams have psychologists. The study tested whether or not rheumatology nurses and occupational therapists (OTs) could facilitate the programme [named RAFT, i.e. Reducing Arthritis Fatigue by clinical Teams using cognitive–behavioural (CB) approaches] after brief training. The study compared the RAFT programme with usual care for RA fatigue (i.e. a short discussion of an arthritis fatigue booklet). All 333 patients received usual care, and then half of the patients were allocated (by chance) to also attend the seven-session RAFT programme. The study compared the RAFT programme with usual care for effects on fatigue, quality of life, cost and value for money. In addition, the rheumatology nurse and OT RAFT tutors were interviewed for their views on the RAFT programme. The study found that patients’ fatigue impact was reduced by both the RAFT programme and usual care at 6 months and 2 years, but patients undertaking the RAFT programme improved significantly more than those receiving usual care alone. Differences were seen for improvements in fatigue impact, fatigue coping, emotional fatigue and living with fatigue. Patients were very satisfied with the RAFT programme and attended most of the sessions. The study found no significant difference between the NHS costs of the RAFT programme and usual care. Neither the RAFT programme nor usual care changed quality of life; therefore, standard value-for-money tests showed no difference between them. Tutors found that the CB questioning approach of the RAFT programme was different from their usual problem-solving style, but helped patients make life changes, and the new CB skills improved tutors’ wider clinical practice. In conclusion, the trial has shown that the RAFT programme has a small to medium effect on reducing fatigue impact in patients with RA and is a potentially low-cost intervention that can be delivered by rheumatology nurses and OTs rather than a psychologist.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: NIHR Journals Library
ISSN: 1366-5278
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 November 2019
Date of Acceptance: 15 January 2019
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2019 14:00
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/126655

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