Wearables for Measuring the Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior of Patients With Axial Spondyloarthritis: Systematic Review

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2022 Aug 22;10(8):e34734. doi: 10.2196/34734.


Background: Axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) is an inflammatory rheumatic disease associated with chronic back pain and restricted mobility and physical function. Increasing physical activity is a viable strategy for improving the health and quality of life of patients with axSpA. Thus, quantifying physical activity and sedentary behavior in this population is relevant to clinical outcomes and disease management. However, to the best of our knowledge, no systematic review to date has identified and synthesized the available evidence on the use of wearable devices to objectively measure the physical activity or sedentary behavior of patients with axSpA.

Objective: This study aimed to review the literature on the use of wearable activity trackers as outcome measures for physical activity and sedentary behavior in patients with axSpA.

Methods: PubMed, PEDro, and Cochrane electronic databases were searched in July 2021 for relevant original articles, with no limits on publication dates. Studies were included if they were original articles, targeted adults with a diagnosis of axSpA, and reported wearable device-measured physical activity or sedentary behavior among patients with axSpA. Data regarding the study's characteristics, the sample description, the methods used for measuring physical activity and sedentary behavior (eg, wearable devices, assessment methods, and outcomes), and the main results of the physical activity and sedentary behavior assessments were extracted.

Results: A total of 31 studies were initially identified; 13 (13/31, 42%) met the inclusion criteria, including 819 patients with axSpA. All the studies used accelerometer-based wearable devices to assess physical activity. Of the 13 studies, 4 (4/31, 31%) studies also reported outcomes related to sedentary behavior. Wearable devices were secured on the wrists (3/13 studies, 23%), lower back (3/13, 23%), right hip (3/13, 23%), waist (2/13, 15%), anterior thigh (1/13, 8%), or right arm (1/13, 8%). The methods for reporting physical activity and sedentary behavior were heterogeneous. Approximately 77% (10/13) of studies had a monitoring period of 1 week, including weekend days.

Conclusions: To date, few studies have used wearable devices to quantify the physical activity and sedentary behavior of patients with axSpA. The methodologies and results were heterogeneous, and none of these studies assessed the psychometric properties of these wearables in this specific population. Further investigation in this direction is needed before using wearable device-measured physical activity and sedentary behavior as outcome measures in intervention studies in patients with axSpA.

Trial registration: PROSPERO CRD42020182398; https://tinyurl.com/ec22jzkt.

International registered report identifier (irrid): RR2-10.2196/23359.

Keywords: axial spondyloarthritis; eHealth; mHealth; mobile health; mobile phone; objective measures; physical activity; rheumatology; sedentary behavior; systematic review; wearable.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Axial Spondyloarthritis*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Wearable Electronic Devices*