Feasibility, acceptability and change in health following a telephone-based CBT intervention for patients with Axial Spondyloarthritis

Rebecca Pedley, Linda E Dean, Ernest H. Choy, Karl Gaffney, Tanzeel Ijaz, Lesley Kay, Karina Lovell, Christine Molloy, Kathryn Martin, Jonathan Packham, Stefan Siebert, Raj Sengupta, Gary Macfarlane, Rosemary Hollick* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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ObjectiveThe aim was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a telephone-based cognitive behaviour therapy (tCBT) intervention for individuals with axial SpA (axSpA), with and without co-morbid FM, and to measure the change in patient-reported health outcomes.MethodsA convenience sample of individuals recruited from British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Registry for AS (BSRBR-AS) sites were offered a course of tCBT (framed as coaching). Patient-reported outcomes were measured at baseline and on course completion. Semi-structured qualitative interviews assessed intervention acceptability. Thematic analysis was informed by the theoretical framework of acceptability.ResultsForty-two participants attended for initial assessment. Those completing at least one tCBT session (n = 28) were younger, more likely to meet classification criteria for FM (57 vs 29%) and reported higher disease activity. Modest improvements were reported across a range of disease activity and wider health measures, with 62% of patients self-rating their health as improved (median 13 weeks post-intervention). Twenty-six participants were interviewed (including six who discontinued after initial assessment). tCBT was widely acceptable, offering a personalized approach. Despite low or unclear expectations, participants described improved sleep and psychological well-being and gained new skills to support self-management. Reasons for non-uptake of tCBT centred on lack of perceived need and fit with individual value systems. Many felt that tCBT would be most useful closer to diagnosis.ConclusionHigher uptake among axSpA patients with co-morbid FM suggests that these individuals have additional needs. The findings are helpful in identifying patients most likely to engage with and benefit from tCBT and to maximize participation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberrkaa063
Number of pages10
JournalRheumatology Advances in Practice
Issue number2
Early online date17 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • axial spondyloarthritis
  • fibromyalgia
  • telephone-based cognitive behavioural therapy
  • feasibility


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