Digital Health Coaching Program Improves Healthy Behaviors, Decreases RA Flares

A behavior modification program can improve healthy behaviors and decrease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The following article features coverage from ACR 2017 in San Diego, California. Click here to read more of Rheumatology Advisor‘s conference coverage.

SAN DIEGO — Behavior modification with the use of a digital health coaching program can improve healthy behaviors and decrease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to data presented at the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting.

Researchers designed a digital health coaching program to reduce RA stressors, increase healthy behaviors proven to reduce symptoms, and promote healthy eating and exercise. A total of 127 patients with RA were enrolled in the program for 12 weeks. Participants were paired with a nonclinical health coach who provided articles, blog posts, and interactive activities to help participants meet their health goals. The health coaches provided support through phone calls, text messages, and email to help participants manage their chronic condition. They also conducted a weekly telephone survey of the participants’ health behaviors and conditions. Mental and physical health data were collected with the PROMIS Health-10, and the Patient Activity Scale-II was used to determine symptom severity and disease activity.

Uma Srivastava, MS, associate director of the Strategic Partnerships at Pack Health in Birmingham, Alabama, presented the findings of the study at the meeting. “The hope was that when armed with the right information and tools and dedicated, one-on-one support on their schedule, participants would be able to improve key heath behaviors as well as key measures of disease management and overall health,” she stated.

The investigators observed a decrease in body mass index of 0.55 kg/m2 and an increase in physical activity of 76%. In addition, there was an increase in hours of sleep per night (0.3 hours) and a 50% reduction in the number of missed medication doses each week.

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The results showed that RA flare frequency dropped by 50% after the program was completed. The participants’ PROMIS Global Health-10 scores also improved, including a 13% increase in the survey’s public health category and a 16% increase in the mental health category.

“We’ve seen tremendous support and success in our rheumatoid arthritis program,” Ms Srivastava concluded. “Some of the next steps include creating a larger pilot or larger program to cover larger areas in the nation, focusing on those regions where rheumatoid arthritis is more prevalent than others.”

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Ghosh I, Srivastava U, Burton BS, et al. Assessing the impact of a digital health coaching program for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Presented at: 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting; November 3-8, 2017; San Diego, CA. Abstract 827.