Internet-Based Implementation of Non-Pharmacological Interventions of the "People Getting a Grip on Arthritis" Educational Program: An International Online Knowledge Translation Randomized Controlled Trial Design Protocol
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Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects 2.1% of the Australian population (1.5% males; 2.6% females), with the highest prevalence from ages 55 to over 75 years (4.4-6.1%). In Canada, RA affects approximately 0.9% of adults, and within 30 years that is expected to increase to 1.3%. With an aging population and a greater number of individuals with modifiable risk factors for chronic diseases, such as arthritis, there is an urgent need for co-care management of arthritic conditions. The increasing trend and present shifts in the health services and policy sectors suggest that digital information delivery is becoming more prominent. Therefore, it is necessary to further investigate the use of online resources for RA information delivery. Objective: The objective is to examine the effect of implementing an online program provided to patients with RA, the People Getting a Grip on Arthritis for RA (PGrip-RA) program, using information communication technologies (ie, Facebook and emails) in combination with arthritis health care professional support and electronic educational pamphlets. We believe this can serve as a useful and economical method of knowledge translation (KT).Methods: This KT randomized controlled trial will use a prospective randomized open-label blinded-endpoint design to compare four different intervention approaches of the PGrip-RA program to a control group receiving general electronic educational pamphlets self-management in RA via email. Depending on group allocation, links to the Arthritis Society PGrip-RA material will be provided either through Facebook or by email. One group will receive feedback online from trained health care professionals. The intervention period is 6 weeks. Participants will have access to the Internet-based material after the completion of the baseline questionnaires until the final follow-up questionnaire at 6 months. We will invite 396 patients from Canadian and Australian Arthritis Consumers’ Associations to participate using online recruitment. Results: This study will build on a pilot study using Facebook, which revealed promising effects of knowledge acquisition/integration of the evidence-based self-management PGrip educational program. Conclusions: The use of online techniques to disseminate knowledge provides an opportunity to reduce health care costs by facilitating self-management of people with arthritis. Study design strengths include the incorporation of randomization and allocation concealment to ensure internal validity. To avoid intergroup contamination, the Facebook group page security settings will be set to “closed”, thus allowing only invited participants to access it. Study limitations include the lack of participant blinding due to the characteristics of this KT randomized controlled trial and a potential bias of recruiting patients only online, though this was proven effective in the previous pilot study.
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