Randomized comparison of a multidisciplinary team care program with usual care in patients with systemic sclerosis


  • ISRCTN: 64237175.



To compare the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary team care program with usual outpatient care in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc; scleroderma).


We performed a randomized controlled trial comparing a 12-week multidisciplinary team care program (1 day per week; individual treatments, group exercises, and group education) with outpatient clinic care. Outcome measures included the Hand Mobility in Scleroderma (HAMIS) test, grip strength, maximal mouth opening (MMO), 6-minute walk distance (6MWD), maximum aerobic capacity (VO2max), Checklist Individual Strength 20 (CIS-20), SSc Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), and Short Form 36 (SF-36), assessed at 0, 12, and 24 weeks. Statistical comparisons of change scores were done by analysis of covariance.


Twenty-eight patients were assigned to the intervention group (mean age 53.9 years, 15 of 28 with diffuse SSc) and 25 were assigned to the control group (mean age 51.7 years, 15 of 25 with diffuse SSc). Twenty-five patients (89%) in the intervention group completed the treatment program. At 12 weeks, there was a significantly greater improvement in grip strength (2.2 versus −1.8 kg; P = 0.001), MMO (1.4 versus −0.9 mm; P = 0.011), 6MWD (42.8 versus 3.9 meters; P = 0.021), and HAQ score (−0.18 versus 0.13; P = 0.025) in the intervention group, whereas differences for the other outcome measures did not reach significance. At 24 weeks, the effect on grip strength persisted.


In patients with SSc, a 12-week multidisciplinary day patient treatment program was more effective than regular outpatient care with respect to 6MWD, grip strength, MMO, and HAQ score, but not for VO2max, HAMIS test, CIS-20, SF-36, and visual analog scale for pain. This study provides a first step in quantifying the effect of a multidisciplinary team care program and warrants the conduct of further intervention studies.