Education and Support Program Helps Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Counsel & Heal—November 19, 2014

Research has shown that programs and support groups can greatly help patients, whether they are suffering from a chronic illness or a fatal disease. In a new study conducted at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), researchers found that a support and education group had a positive effect on newly diagnosed patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

"The Early RA Support and Education program, a part of the Early Arthritis Initiative at Hospital for Special Surgery, addresses the unique psycho-educational needs of people recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis," said Adena Batterman, LCSW, manager of RA Support and Education Programs at HSS. "When developing the program, it was important that the patients' voice and perspective were being considered in how we identified and addressed the specific needs of participants. To ensure this, we obtained patient feedback from many sources, which included focus groups."

A clinical social worker and a rheumatology nurse manager head the monthly program, which allows any RA patients diagnosed within the past two-years to attend for free. The topics that are typically discussed include emotional coping and disease management.

The study was presented in the "Innovations in Rheumatologic Care" session at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting taking place on November 19 in Boston.

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