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Better Health May Be in the Mail

Study finds it does the trick for those with arthritis

SATURDAY, Dec. 7, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Mailed health information can reduce doctor visits for some arthritis patients, but those with other chronic diseases don't get the message.

That's the finding of a new study in the November/December issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The American study found that personalized questionnaires, health handbooks and other health promotion material sent by mail improved the overall health of arthritis patients and cut the number of trips they made to the doctor.

However, it did nothing for people with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

The study found that people with chronic arthritis who received health-care materials in the mail cut their outpatient visits by an average of 4.84 visits over 30 months, compared to a control group of people with arthritis who didn't receive the same materials.

The overall health of those receiving the mailings improved significantly. And the reduction in doctor visits meant a net savings of more than $20,000 for the people who received the mailings.

However, the study found no significant difference in the number of doctor visits by people with diabetes who received mailed health materials compared to diabetics who didn't receive such materials.

And people with high blood pressure who received mailings actually had an average increase of 2.89 visits to the doctor over 30 months compared to those who didn't receive the mailings.

The study included 593 people between the ages of 18 and 64 with chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, or some combination of those conditions. Half received the personalized health mailings.

More information

The Arthritis Foundation has more about arthritis.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, November 2002
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