Key Takeaways 

  • Majority of patients consider wellness to be very important to the management of PsA. 
  • Feeling better is a top motivator for adopting wellness behaviors. 
  • Cost and lack of energy to make changes are top barriers to adopting wellness behavior.

Managing a chronic disease has many layers. Patients are constantly faced with decisions about how to optimize their treatment, including how to integrate overall wellness into their lives. Could having an online wellness program to help with nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management help? 

Working with Elaine Husni, MD, MPH, Vice Chair of Rheumatology and Director, Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Center at the Cleveland Clinic, researchers at the Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) set out to study the views and attitudes about using a guided online wellness program to manage lifestyle behaviors in people with psoriatic arthritis. They then documented their findings in a poster presented at ACR Convergence 2022, the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology. 

An online survey was completed by 186 ArthritisPower users diagnosed with PsA. Participants were asked about their experiences with wellness programs and their motivation for taking part in one. The online wellness program described in the survey was developed by GHLF’s partners at the Cleveland Clinic. It consists of completing four modules focused on nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management using an e-coaching intervention.  

“This survey was designed to learn how people living with PsA think about wellness and its relationship to their rheumatic condition,” explains study author W. Benjamin Nowell, PhD, MSW, who is Director of Patient-Centered Research for GHLF. “Through any wellness program, we hope that patients will be inspired to learn about and implement new healthy lifestyle behaviors.” 

Here are a few of the key findings: 

  • Only one in 10 (10.8 percent) patients currently participate in a structured wellness program. 
  • The top reason for participating in a wellness program was to feel better, said more than one-third (37 percent) of those patients surveyed. 
  • More than three-fourths (76.9 percent) of patients reported that wellness is ‘very important’ for the management of their PsA. 
  • Four out of five patients (80.1 percent) are learning about or improving their sleep. 
  • Two out of three patients (67.7 percent) are learning about or improving their nutrition. 

“The survey also provided early confirmation that patients are interested in online wellness programs, particularly when the potential barriers of time, cost, and lack of energy can be adequately addressed,” says study author Angela Degrassi, Research Manager for Patient-Centered Research at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.  

  • One in four (27.4 percent) people surveyed preferred to interact with an online trained professional followed by attending an online course (18.8 percent).  
  • One in five (21.5 percent) preferred to either attend an in-person class or have an in-person consultation and coaching from a trained professional. 

Barriers to Wellness

Another key part of the study was figuring out what would prevent someone with PsA from participating in an online wellness program, note researchers. While nearly 10 percent of participants reported having no barriers to participation in wellness programs, other cited the following: 

  • Not having the energy to make changes 
  • Cost 
  • Not knowing what changes to make 
  • Not having time to make changes 
  • Not being in the right environment to make changes 
  • Not believing that any lifestyle behaviors affect PsA 
  • Not wanting to make changes

Further are studies are needed to determine how e-coaching wellness platforms may improve and sustain lifestyle changes in PsA patients. The team plans to use its recent award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Institute (PCORI) to build the capacity among patient organizations to disseminate research. “The focus of our project will be on disseminating wellness information in inflammatory arthritis,” says Dr. Nowell. “Knowing what PsA patients value when it comes to wellness, and how they prefer to learn about wellness, will influence how we move forward with this work.” 

Be Part of Research with ArthritisPower

Join CreakyJoints’ patient-centered research registry and participate in voluntary studies about managing arthritis. Learn more and sign up here.

Degrassi A, et al. Managing Psoriatic Arthritis: Patients’ Views and Attitudes to Using an Online Wellness Program. Arthritis & Rheumatology. November 2022. 

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