Participation in evidenced-based arthritis self-management programs (SMPs) has not been well documented. The purpose of this study was to investigate the participation rate and participant characteristics in a closed cohort of subjects in a geographic region where arthritis SMPs have been offered multiple times and continuously for 2 decades.
Data were from osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis subjects participating in the Arthritis, Rheumatism, and Aging Medical Information System (ARAMIS) who resided in the San Francisco (SF) Bay area who had responded to questions about ever participating in an SMP. Differences between participants and nonparticipants were examined by t-tests and chi-square tests.
Questions added to the Health Assessment Questionnaire were returned by 1,176 patients; 618 resided in the SF Bay area. Of the SF Bay area sample, 41.9% had participated in an SMP. Small group SMPs, which had been offered multiple times, in diverse settings, continuously over the past 2 decades, were attended by the highest proportion (28%) of participants. Characteristics of participants and nonparticipants in the SF Bay area were similar (∼70 years old, 15 years of education, and the majority had OA [∼72%]). However, a higher proportion of participants were white (88% versus 82%; P = 0.046) and female (82% versus 73%; P < 0.05).
When arthritis SMPs were offered multiple times in diverse settings and continuously over many years, >40% of the cohort was reached. More research is needed with larger samples and different geographic regions to identify participation rates in more diverse populations.