A multidisciplinary lifestyle program for rheumatoid arthritis: the "Plants for Joints" randomized controlled trial

Wendy Walrabenstein, Carlijn A Wagenaar, Marike van der Leeden, Franktien Turkstra, Jos W R Twisk, Maarten Boers, Henriët van Middendorp, Peter J M Weijs, Dirkjan van Schaardenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of a multidisciplinary lifestyle program in patients with RA with low-moderate disease activity.

METHODS: In the "Plants for Joints" (PFJ) parallel-arm, assessor-blind randomized controlled trial, patients with RA and 28-joint Disease Activity Score [DAS28] ≥ 2.6 and ≤ 5.1 were randomized to the PFJ or control group. The PFJ group followed a 16-week lifestyle program based on a whole food plant-based diet, physical activity, and stress management. The control group received usual care. Medication was kept stable three months before and during the trial whenever possible. We hypothesized that PFJ would lower disease activity (DAS28). Secondary outcomes included anthropometric, metabolic, and patient-reported measures. An intention-to-treat analysis with a linear mixed model adjusted for baseline values was used to analyse between-group differences.

RESULTS: Of the 83 people randomized, 77 completed the study. Participants were 92% female with mean (SD) age of 55 (12), BMI of 26 (4) kg/m2 and mean DAS28 of 3.8 (0.7). After 16 weeks the PFJ group had a mean 0.9-point greater improvement of DAS28 vs the control group (95% CI 0.4-1.3; p < 0.0001). The PFJ intervention led to greater decreases in body weight (difference -3.9 kg), fat mass (-2.8 kg), waist circumference (-3 cm), HbA1c (-1.3 mmol/mol) and LDL (-0.32 mmol/l), whereas patient-reported outcome measures, blood pressure, glucose and other lipids did not change.

CONCLUSION: The 16-week PFJ multidisciplinary lifestyle program substantially decreased disease activity and improved metabolic status in people with RA with low-moderate disease activity.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Clinical Trials Registry Platform; https://www.who.int/clinical-trials-registry-platform; NL7800.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRheumatology (Oxford, England)
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jan 2023


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