Digital health coaching may serve as a useful tool for improving well-being and decreasing symptoms for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research presented at the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Diego.
Despite considerable advances in pharmacotherapy for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the disease can still have a serious impact on a patient’s quality of life, the researchers noted. Promoting self-management of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, including lifestyle changes, is essential to living well with the condition.
A study designed to examine the efficacy of a 12-week digital health coaching program for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, with personalized support from a dedicated health coach, was conducted by Pack Health, a digital health coaching company in Birmingham, Alabama.
The program’s goals include helping patients with rheumatoid arthritis reduce stressors related to their disease and make behavior changes, such as healthy eating and exercise, that are proven to reduce their symptoms and improve their well-being.
The study consisted of 127 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were enrolled in a 12-week digital health coaching program. Each patient was paired with a nonclinical health coach and contacted once a week by telephone. The conversations between patients and health coaches focused on the principles of patient engagement and activation toward behavior change.
Patients were surveyed about their behaviors and condition at baseline and then again after 12 weeks of coaching, including information about their mental and physical health using the PROMIS Global Health-10 survey and the Patient Activity Scale-II. Patients were also asked to self-report the number of flares they experienced each month.
The results showed significant improvements in patients’ overall well-being. These improvements included a decrease in body mass index (0.54kg/m2), an increase in weekly physical activity (73%), an increase in hours of sleep per night (0.4 hours), and decreases in consumption of alcohol and tobacco (15% and 25%, respectively).
American College of Rheumatology Press Release. “Digital Coaching Increases RA Patient Medicine Adherence and Health While Reducing Flares.” November 4, 2017.
Ghosh I, Uma Srivastava U, Burton BS, et al. “Assessing the Impact of a Digital Health Coaching Program for Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Paper Number 2257. 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting; San Diego, California.