Background Regular physical activity (PA) is associated with improvements in health outcomes, such as quality of life, aerobic fitness, and disease-related characteristics, including pain, stiffness and inflammation, in people with inflammatory arthritis. Current practice in the management of patients with inflammatory arthritis emphasises the importance of Health Professionals (HP's) in assessing PA and aerobic capacity. To ensure baseline knowledge on PA and aerobic capacity assessment among HP's, it is important to identify if knowledge and training gaps exist.
Objectives Investigate the awareness and use of objective and subjective measures of PA and aerobic capacity and to identify barriers for implementation of such methods in Health Professionals (Physiotherapist; Occupational Therapist; Nurse) working in the field of rheumatology in Sweden, Ireland and Denmark.
Methods Health Professional's in Rheumatology were invited to participate in a cross-sectional, descriptive, observational study using an online survey methodology. Separate ethics approval was received in each country. Descriptive statistics and chi-square tests were used to analyse the data using SPSS v22.
Results One hundred and forty four (144) HP's responded (50 Denmark, 28 Ireland and 66 Sweden), with 93% being female. Results found the mean number of years qualified to be 20.08 (SD 9.37) and years working in Rheumatology to be 12.29 (SD 8.27), with 61% reporting half of their workload coming from people who have inflammatory arthritis. The majority of respondents (96%) believe it is important to measure PA. Moderate levels of confidence were reported in using a simple body-worn sensor (mean 6.15/10; SD 3.63) and paper questionnaire (6.85/10; SD 3.62) as ways in monitoring PA, with lower levels of confidence in using a complex body-worn sensor (3.80/10; SD 3.55) and digital diary (4.22/10; SD 3.67). There was no statistically significant association between longer years qualified, more years working with people with inflammatory arthritis, age or gender in relation to the importance in measuring PA. When assessing aerobic capacity 58% were very familiar/somewhat familiar using a bicycle ergometer, 44% a treadmill and 56% other aerobic capacity tests. Low levels of confidence were reported in instructing their patients in performing aerobic capacity tests (4.54/10; SD 3.74) and in interpreting the results (4.79/10; SD 3.58). A large majority would be interested in further education around measuring PA (83%) and aerobic capacity measurement (74%), with an online module favoured for both.
Conclusions The majority of Health Professionals surveyed believe it is important to measure PA however, levels of confidence are moderate to low when using various devices/ways. Regarding aerobic capacity tests low levels of familiarity were reported for both performing and interpreting results. There is strong interest in further education around measuring PA and aerobic capacity measurement highlighting a need to develop education and training for HP's in this area.
Disclosure of Interest None declared