Arthritis patients show long-term benefits from 3 weeks intensive exercise training directly following hospital discharge

Y. Bulthuis, K.W. Drossaers-Bakker, Erik Taal, J. Rasker, J. Oostveen, P. van 't Pad Bosch, F. Oosterveld, M. van de Laar

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Objective: To examine the efficacy of short-term intensive exercise training (IET) directly following hospital discharge.

Methods: In the Disabled Arthritis Patients Post-hospitalization Intensive Exercise Rehabilitation (DAPPER) study, patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis were eligible when they needed hospitalization for either a flare-up in disease, elective hip or knee arthroplasty. The intervention group received IET for 3 weeks immediately after discharge; the control group was treated with the usual care (UC). The intensive exercise was provided in a resort. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, after 3, 13, 26 and 52 weeks. Range of motion was measured using the Escola Paulista de Medicina–Range of Motion scale (EPM-ROM), disability was measured using the HAQ and the McMaster Toronto Arthritis Patient Preference Disability Questionnaire (MACTAR), and for health-related quality of life (HRQoL), the Research and Development 36-Item Health Survey (RAND-36) was used.

Results: The IET showed a better and faster improvement than UC on all outcome measures except for HRQoL. Up to 52 weeks after baseline, the EPM-ROM and the MACTAR remained favourable in IET compared with UC. At 3 weeks, the MACTAR improved significantly more in the IET compared with the UC: mean difference -5.5 (95% CI -8.4 to -2.2). At 26 weeks, the mean difference remained significant (-5.2; 95% CI -10.0 to -0.34). At 52 weeks, the effect was not significant; however, the mean difference in improvement between the groups can be considered clinically relevant. At 3 weeks, the IET had improved significantly more on the HAQ walking and rising subscales.

Conclusion: Intensive short-term exercise training of arthritis patients, immediately after hospital discharge results in improved regain offunction. The DAPPER programme has a direct effect, which lasts up to 52 weeks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1712-1717
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Exercise therapy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Outcome assessment
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Arthroplasty


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