Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Studies with a concurrent control group were eligible for inclusion. The included studies were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or non-randomised controlled trials.
Specific interventions included in the review
Studies that compared interventions with an arthritis self-management education component with a concurrent control were eligible for inclusion. Studies of self-management education that used only physical or psychosocial therapies were excluded. Studies that incorporated therapies into an education programme were also eligible.
The programmes in the included studies consisted of 1 to 15 weekly sessions, ranging in duration from 1 to 52 weeks, and were delivered by group and/or individual sessions. The programme modalities varied from face-to face sessions to videotapes or audiocassettes, and most used multiple methods of programme delivery. There were a variety of programme facilitators, including lay educators, trained health educators, physicians, mental health workers, physical or occupational therapists, nurses and dieticians.
Participants included in the review
The inclusion criteria were not specified in terms of participants, but the objective of the review implied that people with arthritis were eligible for inclusion. The included studies were of predominantly female (69%) patients with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The mean age of the patients was 61 years. Most of the studies recruited patients from primary care or arthritis clinics.
Outcomes assessed in the review
Studies that assessed pain or disability were eligible for inclusion. The primary outcome was pain and disability as the end point for each study. The review also assessed the drop-out rates.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
Two reviewers independently selected studies for inclusion.