Clinical and cost effectiveness of arthritis gloves in rheumatoid arthritis (A-GLOVES): randomised controlled trial with economic analysis

Alison Hammond, Yeliz Prior, Sarah Cotterill, Chris Sutton, Elizabeth Camacho, Calvin Heal, Jo Adams, Yvonne Hough, Terence W. O’neill, Jill Firth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background
Arthritis (or compression) gloves are widely prescribed to people with rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of hand arthritis. They are prescribed for daytime wear to reduce hand pain and improve hand function, and/or night-time wear to reduce pain, improve sleep and reduce morning stiffness. However, evidence for their effectiveness is limited. The aims of this study were to investigate the clinical and cost effectiveness of arthritis gloves compared to placebo gloves on hand pain, stiffness and function in people with rheumatoid arthritis and persistent hand pain.

Methods
A parallel randomised controlled trial, in adults (≥ 18 years) with rheumatoid or undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis at 16 National Health Service sites in the UK. Patients with persistent hand pain affecting function and/or sleep were eligible. Randomisation (1:1) was stratified by recent change (or not) in medication, using permuted blocks of random sizes. Three-quarter-finger length arthritis gloves (Isotoner®: applying 23-32 mmHg pressure) (intervention) were compared to loose-fitting placebo gloves (Jobskin® classic: providing no/minimal pressure) (control). Both gloves (considered to have similar thermal qualities) were provided by occupational therapists. Patients and outcome assessors were blinded; clinicians were not. The primary outcome was dominant hand pain on activity (0–10) at 12 weeks, analysed using linear regression and intention to treat principles.

Results
Two hundred six participants were randomly assigned (103 per arm) and 163 (84 intervention: 79 control) completed 12-week follow-up. Hand pain improved by 1.0 (intervention) and 1.2 (control), an adjusted mean difference of 0.10 (95% CI: − 0.47 to 0.67; p = 0.72). Adverse events were reported by 51% of intervention and 36% of control group participants; with 6 and 7% respectively, discontinuing glove wear. Provision of arthritis gloves cost £129, with no additional benefit.

Conclusion
The trial provides evidence of no clinically important effect of arthritis gloves on any of the trial outcomes (hand pain, function and stiffness) and arthritis gloves are not cost-effective. The clinical and cost-effectiveness results support ceasing provision of arthritis gloves in routine clinical practice. Funding: National Institute for Health Research.

Trial registration
ISRCTN, ISRCTN25892131; Registered 05/09/2016: retrospectively registered.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2021

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