Randomized prospective study of a work place ergonomic intervention for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis




To conduct a longitudinal randomized controlled trial comparing a work place ergonomic intervention versus a control (i.e., provision of written educational materials) for persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA) regarding employment, physical, and symptom outcomes.


Eighty-nine participants (mean age 50.54 years, 87% women, 38% with RA, 62% with OA) were randomized into the intervention or control group. Seventy-five participants completed baseline, 12-month, and 24-month evaluations. Outcome measures included Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales 2 (AIMS2) physical, symptom (i.e., pain), and role scores (i.e., impact of arthritis on employment); Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS); and Brief Symptom Inventory Global Severity Index. The study design was a 2-factor (treatment and time) with repeated measures on 1 factor (time) design used with baseline as a covariate for 12- and 24-month data.


Between-group analyses indicated differences at 24 months for the AIMS2 role score (P < 0.03), with the intervention group reporting less arthritis-related impact on their work. Within-group analyses indicated significant improvements for the intervention group in AIMS2 change scores for physical functioning and symptom variables at 12 months (P < 0.04 and P < 0.01, respectively) and 24 months (P < 0.01 and P < 0.01, respectively). Job satisfaction (JSS) decreased at 12 months for both the intervention (P < 0.01) and control groups (P < 0.01), and at 24 months for the control group (P < 0.01).


An ergonomic work place intervention (versus a control) is associated with decreased arthritis-related work difficulties over 2 years for individuals with OA and RA, as well as improvements in physical functioning and pain.