A qualitative evaluation of occupational therapy-led work rehabilitation for people with inflammatory arthritis: Patients’ views


Introduction: This qualitative study, nested in a pilot feasibility randomised controlled trial, explored the views of working people

with inflammatory arthritis on the impact of a work rehabilitation programme received.

Method: Thirty-two participants, drawn from the 55 participants in the associated randomised controlled trial, were recruited from

secondary care in the United Kingdom. Semi-structured telephone and face-to-face interviews were conducted at six (n.32) and

nine months follow-up (n.31). Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using a constant comparative

approach, under the theoretical framework of critical realism.

Findings: Three overarching themes emerged: (1) intervention group participants valued the work rehabilitation programme

received, and highlighted the benefits of occupational therapy; (2) control group participants reported no benefits in relation to the

written work advice pack, and lacked future aspirations to stay employed; (3) the majority of participants reported not reading the

written work advice pack provided, which was the only work advice received by the control group.

Conclusion: Working people with inflammatory arthritis highly valued the practical support received from the therapists, and

emphasised the value of the therapeutic relationship in the rehabilitation process. A tailor-made work rehabilitation programme,

which incorporates cognitive-behavioural strategies into patient education, may help to reduce work instability in people with

inflammatory arthritis, and increase their perceived self-efficacy.