Evaluation of a multidisciplinary care model to improve quality of life in rheumatoid arthritis: a randomised controlled trial

Qual Life Res. 2021 Nov 6. doi: 10.1007/s11136-021-03029-3. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Health-Related Quality of Life (HR-QOL) is an important patient-reported domain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The uptake of multidisciplinary team (MDT) care in RA is generally low, due to initial high demand for resources. We hypothesised that whilst pharmacological treatments are effective in controlling disease activity, a multipronged intervention in an MDT may have a positive impact on HR-QOL.

METHODS: This was a single-centre randomized parallel group, single-blind controlled trial of MDT vs. usual care in an established RA clinic. Data were collected through face-to-face questionnaires, medical records review, and joint counts by a blinded assessor at 0, 3 and 6 months. Adult RA patients were randomly assigned in a single visit to a 6-member MDT (rheumatologist, nurse, social worker, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, and podiatrist) or usual care. MDT providers prescribed medications and counselled patients on managing flares, medication adherence, coping, joint protection, exercise, footwear. The primary outcome was minimal clinically important difference (MCID) in HR-QOL (increase in European QOL-5-Dimension-3-Level, EQ-5D-3L by 0.1) at six months.

RESULTS: 140 patients (86.3% female, 53.4% Chinese, median (IQR) age 56.6 (46.7, 62.4) years); 70 were randomized to each arm. Median (IQR) disease duration was 5.5 (2.4, 11.0) years and disease activity in 28 joints (DAS28) was 2.87 (2.08, 3.66). 123 patients completed the study. Twenty-six (40.6%) MDT vs. 23 (34.3%) usual care patients achieved an MCID in EQ-5D-3L, OR 1.3 (0.6, 2.7). In multivariable logistic regression, baseline EQ-5D-3L was the only predictor of achieving MCID. There was more disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug escalation in MDT (34.4% vs. 19.4%). Patients with high disease activity were more likely to achieve MCID in the MDT arm.

CONCLUSIONS: A single visit by stable patients with low disease activity to an MDT failed to achieve MCID in the EQ-5D-3L; however, did achieve small but significant improvements in the EQ-5D-3L, DAS28, pain, coping and self-efficacy. To be sustainable, MDT care should be targeted at patients with high disease activity or those with a new diagnosis of RA.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study is registered on ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier: NCT03099668.

PMID:34741249 | DOI:10.1007/s11136-021-03029-3

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