Effectiveness of nonpharmacological and nonsurgical interventions for patients with rheumatoid arthritis: and overview of systematic reviews


Phys Ther. – 2007 Dec;87(12):1697-715. Christie A, Jamtvedt G, Dahm KT, Moe RH, Haavardsholm EA, Hagen KB National Resource Centre for Rehabilitation in Rheumatology, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, PO Box 23 Vindern, 0319 Oslo, Norway.


Conclusions based on systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials are considered to provide the highest level of evidence about the effectiveness of an intervention. This overview summarizes the available evidence from systematic reviews on the effects of nonpharmacological and nonsurgical interventions for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Systematic reviews of studies of patients with RA (aged >18 years) published between 2000 and 2007 were identified by comprehensive literature searches. Methodological quality was independently assessed by 2 authors, and the quality of evidence was summarized by explicit methods. Pain, function, and patient global assessment were considered primary outcomes of interest. Twenty-eight systematic reviews were included in this overview. High-quality evidence was found for beneficial effects of joint protection and patient education, moderate-quality evidence was found for beneficial effects of herbal therapy (gamma-linolenic acid) and low-level laser therapy, and low-quality evidence was found for the effectiveness of the other interventions. The quality of evidence for the effectiveness of most nonpharmacological and nonsurgical interventions in RA is moderate to low.