Objective. The effects of treatment counseling or symptom monitoring telephone intervention strategies on the health outcomes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA), compared with usual care, were assessed.

Methods. A 3-group, randomized, controlled 9-month trial was conducted incorporating 405 patients with RA or OA and using the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales (AIMS2) as the outcome measure.

Results. Analyses of covariance showed that the AIMS2 total health status of the treatment counseling group (effect size = 33, P < 0.01), but not the symptom monitoring group (effect size = 0.21, P = 0.10), was significantly improved, compared with usual care, for both RA and OA patients. The specific types of benefits differed significantly between RA and OA patients. The mean number of medical visits by OA patients in the treatment counseling group was also significantly reduced (P < 0.01).

Conclusion. Telephone contact using the treatment counseling strategy produced significant, but different, health status benefits for RA and OA patients. The symptom monitoring strategy produced modest benefits.