Research Summaries

Arthritis and Employment: Making it Work!

PHASE III: Randomized Controlled Trial of the Web-Based E-Learning Model of Making It Work

*As of October 2017, the study is in its analysis stage.*

 

Principal Investigator: Diane Lacaille – Senior Research Scientist of Rheumatoloy, MD, MHSc, FRCPC. Professor and Associate Head Academic Affairs, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia

 

Why do this research?

This research is a natural extension of our previous studies on Work Disability (WD), which led to the development of a novel intervention to help people with inflammatory arthritis maintain employment. This unique program, called Making It Work, was created to improve an aspect of disease management that is too often ignored by health care professionals – the management of employment issues. It fills an important gap in the health care services available for people with arthritis, and has a great potential for improving quality of life and reducing the large indirect cost of arthritis. We have converted our self-management program into a web-based program so that the benefits can be offered to a larger number of people with RA.

For the program to be implemented widely, further testing is necessary to demonstrate its effectiveness at preventing work cessation and improving at-work productivity loss. In this study, we will use a randomized controlled trial design to test the effectiveness and cost-utility of our web-based program compared to a control group receiving usual care.

Our program is unique worldwide in that it combines the benefits of group sessions focused on improving self-management, with assessments by health professionals specifically addressing employment. The web-based technology for delivery of the program is at the leading edge of trends in the field of adult education and self-management. This research is one of few initiatives worldwide to develop and test the effectiveness of interventions specifically targeted at employment. In this age of evidence-based health care delivery, the highest level of evidence, provided by a randomized control led trial (RCT), is needed for our research to translate into a new service offered to people with arthritis. 

 

What will be done?

A sample of 526 participants will be recruited from across BC, Alberta and Ontario. We will send letters of invitation to individuals who attended outpatient arthritis programs, RA educational workshops from Arthritis Consumer Experts, and rheumatology practices. Participants will be randomized into control and study group. As such, they have a 50-50 chance of receiving the program. Members of the study group will partake in the program, which consists of three main components:

  • 5 web-based e-learning modules on topics related to work and arthritis. These modules include a combination of text, art work, audio recordings, video-clips, self-learning activities, and animations to demonstrate skills and techniques
  • 5 bi-weekly group sessions conducted as real-time web-based meetings led by a trained facilitator.Participants will be able to share experiences with the group, discuss problems encountered and strategies used to overcome them, report on progress, and practice techniques shown in the simulation sequences
  • In-person consultations with employment-related professionals. Participants will meet with an occupational therapist (OT) and a vocational rehabilitation counsellor (VRC) to determine what changes are needed and to develop individualized plan for making those changes

Participants will fill out questionnaires online at the beginning of the trial and every six months to collect information about demographics, disease measures, costs, work-related risk factors, quality of life, and work outcomes. We will then analyze this data to evaluate the effect of the intervention.

 

Who is funding the research?

This research is funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

 

Who is on the research team?

Co-investigators:

Catherine Backman – PhD, OT, FCAOT. Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada; Professor and Head, Department of Occupational Science, University of British Columbia

John Esdaile – MD, MPH, FRCPC. Scientific Director, Arthritis Research Canada; Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of British Columbia

Monique Gignac – PhD. Research Scientist, University Health Network, University of Toronto; Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto; Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Work and Health, Toronto; Co-Scientific Director, Canadian Arthritis Network

Charles Goldsmith – MSc, PhD.

Linda Li – BSc(PT), MSc, PhD. Senior Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada; Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia

Carlo Marra – PharmD, PhD, FCSHP. Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada; Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia

 

Research Staff:

Pam A Rogers – MA, Research Coordinator, Arthritis Research Canada

 

Collaborators:

Arthritis Consumer Experts – Cheryl Koehn

Arthritis Patient Advisory Board – Pam Montie, Otto Kamensek, Nadia Prestley

 

Contact

If you have a form of inflammatory arthritis and you are working in paid employment, you may be eligible to participate in this study.

For more information, please contact Pam Rogers at progers@arthritisresearch.ca

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