Purpose: The study sought to describe variation in understandings of how to determine the intensity of physical activity among individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Method: Nineteen individuals aged 21-82 years with RA participated in semi-structured interviews, which were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a phenomenographic approach.
Results: Four qualitatively different ways of understanding how to determine the intensity of physical activity were identified: a) focus on alterations of bodily features; b) focus on will-power and awareness; c) focus on type and performance of activity; and d) focus on consequences of the disease.
Conclusions: The results suggest that there might be a discrepancy between health professionals and patients with RA regarding the understanding of physical activity intensity. This highlights the importance for health professionals to recognise what individuals focus most attention on when communicating 'intensity'. If necessary, health professionals should endeavour to reach a common understanding of evidence-based ways of determining physical activity intensity with each patient in order to prescribe accurately, and assess, physical activity.