An outsourced health-enhancing physical activity programme for people with rheumatoid arthritis: exploration of adherence and response

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2015 Jun;54(6):1065-73. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keu444. Epub 2014 Nov 27.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to document adherence to and changes in health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) levels and self-reported and assessed functioning and to explore aspects of adherence and response during the first year of an outsourced 2-year HEPA programme in people with RA.

Methods: Two-hundred and twenty patients participated in this observational cohort study, which included daily physical activity, twice-weekly circuit training and biweekly support group meetings. Self-reported data included current (past week) and maintained (past 6 months) HEPA levels, sociodemographics and disease-related and psychosocial factors. Tests of aerobic capacity and muscle function were performed and anthropometric data were collected.

Results: Eighty-eight per cent of the participants completed 1 year assessments. Self-reported current and maintained HEPA increased. General health perception and a number of other self-reported disease-related and psychosocial factors improved, while exercise self-efficacy declined. Aerobic capacity, timed standing and grip strength improved and waist circumference decreased. The mean number of circuit training sessions performed was 48, the mean number of days with HEPA was 189 and the mean number of support group meetings attended was 9. Better adherence to circuit training improved general health, and better adherence to group meetings improved timed standing. Exercise self-efficacy improved among those adhering more to circuit training or support group meetings.

Conclusion: The outsourced HEPA programme had high retention and reasonable adherence. A number of health outcomes improved. Relationships between adherence to the programme components and response were not clear-cut and need further attention.

Trial registration: ISRCTN register; Trial registration number ISRCTN25539102.

Keywords: clinical trial; exercise; health behaviour; muscular strength; physical fitness; self-efficacy social cognitive theory; trans-theoretical model.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Exercise Therapy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Efficacy
  • Self Report
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult