Self-management programs can help adolescents living with juvenile idiopathic arthritis manage their disease as they enter adulthood, according to new research. This study specifically tested the acceptability of an in-person/videoconference, self-management program for adolescents with arthritis to determine whether they would find it helpful.
“The program was well received and adolescents expressed a desire to attend in the future,” said Kelsey Chomistek, a research trainee at Arthritis Research Canada and the study’s lead researcher. “Participants also said they would recommend the program to friends.”
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the most common childhood rheumatic disease, affecting an estimated one to 22 per 100,000 children under the age of 16.
Although treatments have improved over the last decade, affected children experience ongoing disease activity, complications, long-term disability and psychosocial issues as they enter adulthood.
“Education, self-management and peer support in adolescents with juvenile idiopathic arthritis is very important as youth transition to adulthood when more of their disease management falls on their shoulders,” Chomistek said.
The program tested in this research is the first of its kind designed for adolescents living with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and includes four sessions about disease education, self-management strategies, medication management, and psychosocial support.
If proven effective, it could be expanded and implemented across pediatric rheumatology centers for patients and be adapted to meet different needs.