Association between computer use speed and age, impairments in function, and touch typing training in people with rheumatoid arthritis

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Abstract

Objective

To explore the associations between impairments in hand function associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and limitations in computer peripheral use.

Methods

A total of 45 computer users with RA were recruited from the Arthritis Network Research Registry. Impairments in hand function were measured using the Keitel Hand Function Index, and the Arthritis Hand Function Test, while general activity limitations were measured with the Health Assessment Questionnaire. Speed of computer peripheral device use was obtained at a laboratory work station using the Assessment of Computer Task Performance (ACTP).

Results

Multiple regression models suggested that keyboarding speed was significantly associated with touch typing training and age, while mouse speed was significantly associated with age. Impairments in hand function were significantly associated with only 2 of 7 keyboarding tasks and no mouse tasks. General activity limitations were associated with 2 of 7 keyboarding tasks and 2 of 5 significant mouse tasks. A comparison of this study's sample with a normative sample reported for the ACTP suggested that this sample's keyboarding speed was similar to a nonimpaired sample, while mouse speed was much slower.

Conclusion

Reduced keyboarding speed is most strongly associated with touch typing skill. General activity limitations appear to be the strongest arthritis-related predictor of decreased computer use speeds. Many computer users with RA will not experience reduced productivity in typing speeds, although many may be slower than their nonimpaired counterparts for mouse use.

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