WORKWELL: helping people with inflammatory arthritis to stay in work

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Alison Hammond

Organisation - University of Salford

Type of grant - Clinical Studies

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £651,584.63

Start date - 1 May 2018

Reference - 21761

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aim of the research is to investigate whether a work rehabilitation programme (WORKWELL) will improve the working lives of people with inflammatory arthritis. The programme is based upon a similar programme proven to be effective in the USA but adapted for the UK's social, health and economic systems. We previously funded a trial that showed WORKWELL could be delivered by therapists and had positive feedback from people with arthritis. This research project will provide a more rigorously controlled trial, testing both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the programme.

Why is this research important?

A third of people with inflammatory arthritis stop working within three years of diagnosis and half within ten years. This causes difficulties for people and their families socially, psychologically and financially. People with job modifications such as flexible hours, are less likely to stop working however many people with arthritis don’t get advice on how to make changes. WORKWELL will provide personalised advice and support to resolve work issues from a WORKWELL-trained therapist. This empowers people with arthritis to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to act to resolve immediate and future work-related issues and to reduce their risk of losing their job.

In this trial, half of the people will receive written self-help information about staying in work while the other half will receive the same information as well as 4.5 hours with a WORKWELL-trained therapist over four months. Questionnaires and interviews over a one year period will be used to assess if WORKWELL has reduced the risk of job loss and sick leave and improved the health and quality of life for working people with arthritis. The study will also assess the cost-effectiveness of WORKWELL compared with receiving self-help information alone.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Many people find work a fulfilling and important aspect of their lives, providing purpose and meaning. If this programme works it could be rolled out in the NHS which could allow people with arthritis to remain in control, stay independent through work and maintain income. This could lead to better physical and mental health for people with arthritis.