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Close up of a hand squeezing a blue ball against a blurred leafy background.

The main SARAH trial has completed and the results were published in March 2015.

The SARAH trial aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a tailored exercise programme for hands and wrists for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in addition to usual care. The project was led by Professor Sallie Lamb and funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme.

490 patients were recruited from 17 NHS sites across the UK and were randomly allocated to either usual care (joint protection advice and education and functional splinting as necessary) or usual care plus a further five sessions of supervised strengthening and stretching exercise with a hand therapist. People taking part were followed up at 4, 8 and 12 months after being included in the trial.

The trial showed that the individually tailored, progressive exercise programme, made up of a series of strengthening and stretching exercises, improved function and quality of life for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The programme was also shown to be cost-effective, providing a low-cost intervention that can be adopted alongside regular medication.

With funding from CLAHRC Oxford, the Centre for Rehabilitation Research in Oxford is now running a series of projects to implement the findings of the SARAH trial. Clinicians can download the SARAH trial materials.