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NIHR recognises ARC OxTV and PenARC's SARAH programme, empowering 1.3 million UK citizens with rheumatoid arthritis through tailored exercises and online therapist training.

We are proud to announce that the Strengthening and Stretching for Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand (SARAH) exercise programme, developed by researchers supported by the ARC OxTV in collaboration with the NIHR ARC Southwest Peninsula (PenARC), has been recognised as a leading case study of impactful work across the NIHR's nationwide network of 15 regional ARCs.

The SARAH programme, a set of 11 tailored exercises and self-management strategies for improving hand function in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), underwent rigorous clinical trials and was found to be both clinically and cost-effective. As a result, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended SARAH for widespread use in the NHS.

To make the programme more accessible, ARC OxTV and PenARC supported researchers developed iSARAH, an online training platform that has successfully trained therapists worldwide, with 99% reporting confidence in delivering the programme. Impressively, 85% of patients treated by iSARAH-trained therapists experienced lasting improvements in hand function.

The collaboration between ARC OxTV and PenARC continues as researchers develop a patient-facing digital tool to further empower those living with RA to access the benefits of SARAH directly. Co-developed with patients and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, early feedback has been highly positive.

The SARAH programme exemplifies the vital role ARCs play in supporting applied health research that meets the needs of local populations and health systems.

You can find the case study on the NIHR website by clicking here.

Or read more about the project by clicking here.

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