Perceptions of physical activity engagement among adults with rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatologists

Int J Clin Rheumtol. 2015;10(2):67-77. doi: 10.2217/ijr.15.3.


Aim: Physical activity (PA) among adults with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is suboptimal. This study assessed PA motivations and perceptions in adults with RA and rheumatologists.

Methods: Patients and rheumatologists participated in structured interviews led by a behavioral scientist. Sessions were audiotaped, transcribed and coded.

Results: Twenty-three patients (mean age = 63 [standard deviation = 10], 96% female) and seven rheumatologists (57% male, 29% fellows) participated. Nine themes emerged: communication with the rheumatologist, environment/access, symptom management, social support, mental health, breaking inactivity cycles, integrating PA into routines, staying in control and challenge/intimidation. Highly active patients viewed PA differently than low active patients. The need to compete with RA-free individuals may impede PA.

Conclusion: Understanding how patients conceptualize PA will enable clinicians to formulate PA strategies to motivate patients.

Keywords: motivators; perceptions; physical activity; rheumatoid arthritis.