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Fatigue in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Professor Sarah Hewlett, University of the West of England & UHBristol

Sarah Hewlett, Arthritis Research UK Professor of Rheumatology Nursing, leads an internationally recognised research group specialising in rheumatology. Their work on the fatigue associated with rheumatoid arthritis has led to international consensus that fatigue must be measured in all clinical trials of rheumatoid arthritis treatments, putting it firmly on the international research agenda.

"This topic was brought up by patients themselves, during our early research to find out what outcomes were important for them. Patients considered fatigue to be an overwhelming problem that was ignored by health care teams, and that they could not manage alone". Professor Sarah Hewlett.

With substantial support from Arthritis Research UK, Professor Hewlett's research has sought to understand the nature of fatigue and its impact on patients, and to develop an accurate measurement tool for fatigue and its different dimensions. This has led to the development of successful interventions to help people manage this distressing symptom. They have also written a self-help booklet for Arthritis Research UK, that is averaging requests of 11,000 per month by public and hospital teams.

Professor Hewlett's team have also successfully tested a self-management programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and believe patients with other types of inflammatory arthritis would also benefit. They have recently begun a £1.3 million grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for a full scale clinical trial of the CBT programme in seven hospitals across the UK.

Further information:

The above extract was adapted from: UWe-book no.2: "Improving healthcare for people with long-term conditions" 

Arthritis Research UK "Too tired to care":