Moving beyond education to self-management

The Rheumatology Education Team at Newcastle Hospitals has used an improvement approach to encourage, support and empower patients to effectively self-manage early arthritis.

rheumatology pic


This project set out to support patients who have recently been diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. Patients receive a great deal of information at the point of diagnosis, including details about new medication and the trajectory of their disease.  It is essential that they understand this process as treatments can take 3-4 months to take effect. 

Opportunity for improvement

Better education about a condition can improve outcomes for patients and enhance their wellbeing, as well as keeping people in work and helping to reduce the chances of a disability.  The Rheumatology Education Team therefore sought to improve educational resources to help patients understand their diagnosis and ultimately aid them in the self-management of their condition. 

Helping people to understand their condition also improves patient experience by reducing unnecessary trips to hospital and making sure every visit counts – this is much better for both patients and the environment.

Additionally, the project was an opportunity to fulfil the national ambition for Patient initiated follow ups (PIFU). This seeks to increase patient education and a self-management resource is needed to support this.

Changes made

The team introduced a number of new education resources, including:

  • Short videos from members of the team
  • Written information
  • Providing links to external sources
  • Updating the Newcastle Trust website with up-to-date resources, including medication, videos, written content and FAQs

All of the information included in the education materials was co-designed with patients. For example, the team carried out a questionnaire, which asked patients:

  • What they knew
  • What information they needed
  • How they would access that information 

Next steps

The team will measure the impact of their work with patients given a new diagnosis of an inflammatory arthritis six months post diagnosis. This will involve asking patients to self-rate their confidence in the self-management of their condition by TWO points on a VAS 0-10 scale (with 10 being most confident)

The education materials will also continue to grow and develop, in conjunction with patients. For example, another questionnaire will be undertaken in the future.

The web pages will also be developed further, to include details on symptoms and concerns. Visits to the web pages will be reviewed as well as providing patients with an email address to give feedback.

For more information on making an improvement in your area, please email [email protected].