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Rheumatoid arthritis patients’ views of a vocational rehabilitation intervention provided by rheumatology occupational therapists

Prior, Y; Amanna, A; Bodell, SJ; Hammond, A


A Amanna


Background: Work disability in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is common and many are unlikely to return to work once they cease working. This study, nested within a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of a vocational rehabilitation (VR) programme, aimed to explore employed RA patients’ perceptions of the impact of VR or work advice received.
Method: The VR intervention was modified for use in the UK from an American study and provided by Rheumatology OTs, who had received training in VR. Both the intervention and control group received a work advice pack. The intervention group also received on average 3 (SD1.08) hours of VR. At six month follow-up, semi-structured telephone interviews with participants (n=32) were conducted to investigate their views of VR and advice received. These were recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed by three researchers to ensure validity.
Results: Two different and overarching themes emerged within each group: (i) the intervention group: valued the work advice they received (e.g. pacing, looking after self, changes to work routines, advice on equipment/aids) and highlighted the therapeutic benefit of seeing an OT (ii) the control group: perceived their condition as more debilitating than those in the intervention group, and lacked future aspirations about staying employed. They were unaware of their rights at work, refrained from disclosing their condition to their employers and expressed concerns about taking frequent sick leave, anticipating this might result in job loss. Participants from both groups admitted not having read the information booklet.
Conclusions: Working people with RA receiving VR in this trial found it helped them learn how to manage their condition at work, and understand their employment rights. A relatively short intervention provided by rheumatology OTs may help them to stay in work for longer, potentially improving work disability.


Prior, Y., Amanna, A., Bodell, S., & Hammond, A. (2014). Rheumatoid arthritis patients’ views of a vocational rehabilitation intervention provided by rheumatology occupational therapists. Rheumatology, 53(Supp.1), i121-i122.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Apr 7, 2014
Publication Date Apr 7, 2014
Deposit Date Feb 10, 2015
Journal Rheumatology
Print ISSN 1462-0324
Electronic ISSN 1462-0332
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 53
Issue Supp.1
Pages i121-i122
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