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BMC Rheumatol. 2019 Mar 28;3:12. doi: 10.1186/s41927-019-0057-8. eCollection 2019.

Intensive management for moderate rheumatoid arthritis: a qualitative study of patients' and practitioners' views.

Author information

1Department of Inflammation Biology, School of Immunology and Microbial Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King's College London, 10 Cutcombe Road, Denmark Hill, London, SE5 9RJ UK.
2Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King's College London, 57 Waterloo Road, London, SE1 8WA UK.



The TITRATE trial seeks to test whether intensive management is valuable in achieving disease remission in moderately active rheumatoid arthritis. Intensive management is a complex intervention consisting of: 1) 12 x monthly appointments, 2) tailored 'treatment support' based on motivational interviewing techniques, 3) optimised medication (including the opportunity for biologics), 4) provision of a Patient Handbook, and 5) shared treatment planning. This study aims to understand: a) patients' and practitioners' views on the feasibility and acceptability of intensive management, and b) patients' and practitioners' experience of receiving/providing intensive management.


A qualitative study, nested within a randomised controlled trial. Participants were patients (n = 15) in the intensive management arm of the trial and rheumatology practitioners (n = 16) providing the intensive management intervention, from 18/42 clinics across England. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis and iterative categorization.


Monthly appointments were largely acceptable to both groups who cited several treatment benefits (e.g. regular review of medication, practitioners built close relationships with patients). Practitioners were 'fairly confident' using the motivational interviewing techniques. Learning to pace was the most commonly reported self-management technique that patients and healthcare professionals worked on together, followed by gaining control over pain and fatigue. Practitioners liked having the option to offer biologics to patients with moderate RA. Most patients found the optimised medication (following monthly joint assessment) helpful and side-effects experienced were resolved. Variation existed in the extent to which patients engaged with the Patient Handbook and shared treatment planning, with those who did engage doing so in the early stages.


Feedback from patient participants about the intensive management intervention was positive. They found increased medication helpful. Continuity of care with the same healthcare professional at regular intensive management sessions, and the treatment support provided, were highly rated. Feedback from practitioners indicated that intensive management training is feasible. Evidence from the interviews showed that some practitioners applied motivational interviewing techniques during standard care appointments and they would like the opportunity to address lifestyle issues with patients.


Acceptability; Complex intervention; Feasibility; Intensive management; Motivational interviewing; Practitioners; Qualitative; Rheumatoid arthritis

Conflict of interest statement

LP: Researcher and PhD Student; JS: Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Nursing; SdS Honorary Patient Expert; HL: Reader in Medical Sociology.Approval for the patient sub study was obtained from the West London & GTAC Research Ethics Committee (Reference: 13/LO/1308) on 3rd December 2014. Informed written consent was obtained from all the patients participating in the study. The interviews with practitioners were considered service evaluation, therefore, ethical approval was not required for these.N/AThe authors declare that they have no competing interests.Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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