Internet Education Program Helps Teens Fight Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) who used a program to receive health education and help in taking the lead in their own disease management is winning praises for its role in assisting teens with JIA achieve better outcomes.

The study, released at the 2017 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting held in San Diego from November 3rd to November 8th, included 333 teenagers with JIA. The intervention program, “Teens Take Charge Engine Arthritis Online Program,” was administered to one group. This group also received information on self-management of their disease. The control arm received the standard patient education material without the self-management component.

At the end of the 3-month study, the intervention group that received the self-management component saw a much larger decrease in their pain and its associated reduction in quality of life as opposed to the control group. The group with the self-management component fared better than the group that did not have that component to the study.
The October 11th issue of Penn State’s Medical Minute reports that Chronic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) affects over 300,000 children in the United States. These patients have extreme joint inflammation and no one really knows how that inflammatory process is initiated. Sometimes it runs in families, but many times it does not. JIA is usually diagnosed during early childhood or adolescence. Doctors rule out other causes for the inflammation such as injury, lyme disease, and lupus usually before arriving at a diagnosis of JIA.

In the past two decades the treatment for JIA has improved dramatically and the outcome for patients and their quality of life has gotten better as a result. Most patients are treated with cortisone injections and methotrexate. Some may require the use of biologics to inhibit the overactive immune response that is the hallmark of JIA.

According to Dr. Barbara Ostrov, a pediatric and adult rheumatologist at Penn State Health,  the improved treatment has made a huge difference that is easily seen in the patient population. Patients can lead a normal life with the right treatment and intervention.

“Twenty years ago at our summer camp for children with arthritis, we would have seven or so of our 30 kids in wheelchairs. The past five years, we have had 100 kids empowered by the camp experience, and none had arthritis damage requiring wheelchairs.”
— Dr. barbara ostrov

JIA doesn’t have to be the debilitating disease of the past. New treatments and programs based on assisting teens develop self-management for their JIA are making progress. The researchers from the study have put the program online for others to use. The “Taking Charge: Managing JIA Online Program” can be found at this link: Taking Charge: Managing JIA Online Program.

Donald Blake

Donald Blake

Donald Blake has a BS in Communication Studies. He has a lengthy tenure in the healthcare, media and education fields. He is dedicated to improving the lives of those with rare diseases through his knowledge of healthcare and communications.

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