Objectives: To investigate the long-term effects on perceived general health, disease activity, pain, activity limitation and cognitive behavioural factors of a one-year coaching programme performed in ordinary physical therapy practice to promote the adoption of health-enhancing physical activity in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: A total of 228 patients with early RA, from 10 rheumatology clinics in Sweden, were randomly assigned to an intervention group (IG; n = 94) or a control group (CG; n = 134). The IG was coached by physical therapists during the first year to adopt health-enhancing levels of physical activity (30 minutes/day, moderately intensive, ≥ 4 days/week). No coaching was given during the subsequent year between post-intervention and follow-up. Follow-up assessment consisted of a postal questionnaire on physical activity and of visual analogue scales for ratings of general health perception and pain. The Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (HAQ) and the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS 28) were collected at regular medical check-ups.
Results: Sixty-five (69%) participants in the IG and 92 (69%) in the CG completed the entire study period by filling in the follow-up questionnaire on physical activity two years after baseline. The intervention seemed to lack any significant influence on long-term outcome. However, different patterns of change in physical activity behaviour were observed in the two groups.
Conclusions: No long-term improvement in perceived general health or other outcomes were found in the follow-up. This may partly be because the intervention lacked several important behavioural elements for physical activity maintenance.
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.