Centre for Applied Research of the Faculty of Digital Media & Creative Industries

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


<b>Objective</b><br/>To determine the effect of a multidisciplinary lifestyle program in patients with RA with low–moderate disease activity.<br/><br/><b>Methods</b><br/>In the ‘Plants for Joints’ (PFJ) parallel-arm, assessor-blind randomized controlled trial, patients with RA and 28-joint DAS (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 3 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.<br/><br/><b>Results</b><br/>Of the 83 people randomized, 77 completed the study. Participants were 92% female with mean (S.D.) age of 55 (12) years, 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 low-density lipoprotein (–0.32 mmol/l), whereas patient-reported outcome measures, blood pressure, glucose and other lipids did not change.<br/><br/><b>Conclusion</b><br/>The 16-week PFJ multidisciplinary lifestyle program substantially decreased disease activity and improved metabolic status in people with RA with low–moderate disease activity.<br/><br/><b>Trial Registration</b><br/>International Clinical Trials Registry Platform; https://www.who.int/clinical-trials-registry-platform; NL7800.

Reference Walrabenstein, W., Wagenaar, C. A., van der Leeden, M., Turkstra, F., Twisk, J. W. R., Boers, M., van Middendorp, H., Weijs, P. J. M., & van Schaardenburg, D. (2023). A multidisciplinary lifestyle program for rheumatoid arthritis: the 'Plants for Joints' randomized controlled trial. Rheumatology , 62(8), 2683-2691. https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keac693
Published by  Urban Vitality 1 August 2023

Publication date

Aug 2023


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


Research database