The effect of a multidisciplinary lifestyle program for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis or with metabolic syndrome-associated osteoarthritis: the "Plants for Joints" randomized controlled trial protocol

Wendy Walrabenstein, Marike van der Leeden, Peter Weijs, Henriët van Middendorp, Carlijn Wagenaar, Johanna Maria van Dongen, Max Nieuwdorp, Catharina Sophia de Jonge, Laurette van Boheemen, Dirkjan van Schaardenburg

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Low-grade inflammation and metabolic syndrome are seen in many chronic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Lifestyle interventions which combine different non-pharmacological therapies have shown synergizing effects in improving outcomes in patients with other chronic diseases or increased risk thereof, especially cardiovascular disease. For RA and metabolic syndrome-associated OA (MSOA), whole food plant-based diets (WFPDs) have shown promising results. A WFPD, however, had not yet been combined with other lifestyle interventions for RA and OA patients. In this protocol paper, we therefore present Plants for Joints, a multidisciplinary lifestyle program, based on a WFPD, exercise, and stress management. The objective is to study the effect of this program on disease activity in patients with RA (randomized controlled trial [RCT] 1), on a risk score for developing RA in patients with anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA) positive arthralgia (RCT 2) and on pain, stiffness, and function in patients with MSOA (RCT 3), all in comparison with usual care.We designed three 16-week observer-blind RCTs with a waiting-list control group for patients with RA with low to moderate disease activity (2.6 ≤ Disease Activity Score [DAS28] ≤ 5.1, RCT 1, n = 80), for patients at risk for RA, defined by ACPA-positive arthralgia (RCT 2, n = 16) and for patients with metabolic syndrome and OA in the knee and/or hip (RCT 3, n = 80). After personal counseling on diet and exercise, participants join 10 group meetings with 6-12 other patients to receive theoretical and practical training on a WFPD, exercise, and stress management, while medication remains unchanged. The waiting-list control group receives usual care, while entering the program after the RCT. Primary outcomes are: difference in mean change between intervention and control groups within 16 weeks for the DAS28 in RA patients (RCT 1), the RA-risk score for ACPA positive arthralgia patients (RCT 2), and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) score for MSOA patients (RCT 3). Continued adherence to the lifestyle program is measured in a two-year observational extension study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number715
Pages (from-to)715
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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