An Internet based Self Management Program
An internet based Self Management Program can help people with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (Fibro) or arthritis, according to a recent article. 
The article, by a group of researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, California, USA, was recently e-published ahead of print in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. In it, they discuss the results of a 1-year trial of an internet-based arthritis self-management program for patients with arthritis or Fibro.
The researchers note that small-group arthritis self-management programs have proven effective in changing health-related behaviors and improving health status measures. The study specifically aimed to determine the efficacy of an Internet-based Arthritis Self-Management Program as a resource for patients who were either unable or unwilling to attend such a small-group program. 
For the study, 855 patients with either rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or Fibro, and Internet and e-mail access, were randomized to an intervention or usual care control group. Outcome measures included 6 health status variables (pain, fatigue, activity limitation, health distress, disability, and self-reported global health), 4 health behaviors (aerobic exercise, stretching and strengthening exercise, practice of stress management, and communication with physicians), 5 utilization variables (physician visits, emergency room visits, chiropractic visits, physical therapist visits, and nights in hospital), and self-efficacy. The participants assigned to the intervention group were compared with usual care controls at 6 months and 1 year.
At 1 year, the group assigned to the internet based Arthritis Self Management Program had significantly improved in 4 of 6 health status measures and self-efficacy. No significant differences in health behaviors or health care utilization were found. 
The researchers concluded that:
"The Internet-based [Arthritis Self-Management Program] proved effective in improving health status measures at 1 year and is a viable alternative to the small-group [Arthritis Self-Management Program]." 
Variations on the Expert Patient Program are used in many countries as a means of helping patients with chronic illnesses. However, having to attend regular meetings often puts some people off, especially those with more severe conditions. The use of an Internet based self-management program could be very useful to a number of patients.
- Lorig KR, Ritter PL, Laurent DD, Plant K. The internet-based arthritis self-management program: A one-year randomized trial for patients with arthritis or fibromyalgia. Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Jun 24;59(7):1009-1017. [Epub ahead of print]