Efficacy of a Physical Activity Counseling Program With Use of a Wearable Tracker in People With Inflammatory Arthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2020 Dec;72(12):1755-1765. doi: 10.1002/acr.24199.


Objective: To assess the efficacy of a multifaceted counseling intervention at improving physical activity participation and patient outcomes.

Methods: We recruited people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In weeks 1-8, the immediate group received education and counseling by a physical therapist, used a Fitbit and a web application to obtain feedback about their physical activity, and received 4 follow-up calls from the physical therapist. The delay group received the same intervention in weeks 10-17. Participants were assessed at baseline and at weeks 9, 18, and 27. The primary outcome was time spent in moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA; in bouts of ≥10 minutes) measured with a SenseWear device. Secondary outcomes included step count, time in sedentary behavior, pain, fatigue, mood, self-management capacity, and habitual behaviors.

Results: A total of 118 participants enrolled. The adjusted mean difference in MVPA was 9.4 minutes/day (95% confidence interval [95% CI] -0.5, 19.3, P = 0.06). A significant effect was found in pain (-2.45 [95% CI -4.78, -0.13], P = 0.04), and perceived walking habit (0.54 [95% CI 0.08, 0.99], P = 0.02). The remaining secondary outcomes improved, but were not statistically significant. Post hoc analysis revealed a significant effect in MVPA (14.3 minutes/day [95% CI 2.3, 26.3]) and pain (-4.05 [95% CI -6.73, -1.36]) in participants with RA, but not in those with SLE.

Conclusion: Counseling by a physical therapist has the potential to improve physical activity in people with inflammatory arthritis, but further study is needed to understand the intervention effect on different diseases. We found a significant improvement in pain, suggesting that the intervention might have a positive effect on symptom management.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy / instrumentation*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • British Columbia
  • Counseling*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Fitness Trackers*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome