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Arthritis Rheum. 1989 Jun;32(6):706-16.

A reexamination of the effectiveness of self-care education for persons with arthritis.

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  • 1School of Nursing, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.


We examined the effectiveness of 2 models of arthritis self-care intervention, the home study model and the small group model. The effects of disease diagnosis and duration, self-care behavior, perceived helplessness, social support, treatment choice, and formal education level on outcomes among persons with arthritis who participated in these programs were evaluated. A pretest-posttest control group design was utilized in the initial experimental study; comparison group designs were used in the longitudinal studies. Three hundred seventy-four subjects completed the interventions and 12 months of research followup. We found that the intervention models had a statistically significant positive impact on arthritis knowledge, self-care behavior, perceived helplessness, and pain. These findings did not vary when the effects of education level, disease diagnosis and duration, informal social support, and treatment choice were controlled. The small group intervention was more effective in bringing about initial improvements in pain and depression, whereas the home study intervention was more effective in maintaining improvements in perceived helplessness. Changes in perceived helplessness and self-care behavior appear to explain in part the observed improvement in pain.

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