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Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Mar 15;59(3):311-6. doi: 10.1002/art.23312.

Five-year followup of a cognitive-behavioral intervention for patients with recently-diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis: effects on health care utilization.

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The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.



To investigate whether cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) administered early in the course of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has long-term effects on health care use.


We reviewed the files of 47 of the original 53 patients with early RA who volunteered for a randomized controlled trial comparing CBT with no psychological intervention. Occasions of service provision associated with RA were documented and health care use was compared between groups.


The CBT group used fewer health care resources than the control group in the 5 years following intervention. Significant differences were observed for the number of inpatient nights, physiotherapy referrals, injections, and for total health care use. There was a trend that closely approached significance toward fewer episodes of surgery and orthopedic referrals in the CBT group.


These results suggest that CBT administered early in the course of RA can reduce health care use for the first 5 years after treatment. This is a stringent test of the efficacy of a brief psychological intervention, and supports the fact that brief psychological treatments can have long-term effects.

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