There is gap between what many Canadians living with arthritis should be doing to help deal with their condition, versus what they feel capable of doing. For people with arthritis, being active physically is a key to managing the disease. Small surprise, then, that more than half of people with arthritis have a hard time keeping up with a daily “dose” of physical activity. Not enough advice from health professionals, a lack of user-friendly tools for treatment choices, lack of exercise, and failing to properly take medications over fears of side effects all make the problem worse.
Thanks to the generous support of its donors, the Arthritis Society awarded Dr. Linda Li, a professor at the University of British Columbia and Senior Scientist at Arthritis Research Canada, a grant to help tackle this problem by providing patients with easier access to health information and advice from health professionals so that they can better self-manage their disease.
Dr. Li’s team has worked with a group of partners to create an e-health program called OPERAS to improve self-management in patients living with Arthritis. The program is made of two parts:
- an online journal to record, monitor, and report on differences in symptoms, treatment, and disease activity
- telephone counselling with a physiotherapist, and a Fitbit to display physical activity successes
This study will show whether the OPERAS program can positively impact the self-care and activity levels of Arthritis patients. The hope is that this model of care will empower Canadians to better understand their health, seek care when they need it, and most importantly improve their health outcomes.
Research progress update (May 2019)
Development of the OPERAS platform and user testing have now been completed, including the addition of a healthcare professional portal to help participants share useful information with their healthcare team. Dr. Li and her team will now test if OPERAS improves self-management ability, disease status, and physical activity levels over six months in more than 130 people with rheumatoid arthritis in a clinical trial. Recruitment for the clinical trial has begun, and results are expected by September 2021. Stay tuned for more updates as the study progresses!