Background Despite its positive effects on health outcomes, insufficient levels of physical activity (PA) have been found in the arthritis population. In addition, lower aerobic capacity adds to the patient's risk for cardiovascular disease. Increasing PA is thus important for this group and the use of objective and self-reported measures of PA should be encouraged as self-monitoring and evaluation of PA support promotion of healthy PA behaviours.
Objectives To investigate the familiarity with objective and self-reported PA and aerobic capacity assessments and to identify barriers for their implementation in patients with rheumatic disease in Sweden, Ireland and Denmark.
Methods Patients with rheumatic disease were invited through each country's patient organisations to participate in a cross-sectional, observational study using online survey methodology.
Results A total of 791 patients (87% female) responded (579 Danish, 90 Irish and 122 Swedish) with Rheumatoid Arthritis (42%), Ankylosing Spondylitis (14%), Psoriatic Arthritis (25%) as main diagnoses. 99% of the patients reported pain during the past week in hand (62%), leg (60%), arm (58%), foot (51%), back (49%) and/or neck (36%). A total of 25% reported large limitations in moderate daily activities and 24% in climbing stairs. Use of biological disease modifying anti rheumatic drugs (Bio-DMARDS) was reported by 28% and non-biological DMARDS by 47%. Two thirds found it important to measure PA and approximately half stated they do not receive information regarding the same. Moderate levels of familiarity with simple body-worn sensor (mean 5.47/10; SD 4.04) to measure PA was found. Familiarity was lower with paper questionnaires (4.09/10; SD 3.69), complex body-worn sensors (3.70/10; SD 3.87), digital diaries (3.07/10; SD 3.53), paper diaries (3.45/10; SD 3.64) and digital questionnaires (3.46/10; SD 3.67) to measure PA. There was no statistically significant association between diagnosis, physical limitation or localisation of pain in relation to the familiarity of the above measures of PA (p>0.05), however, patients on Bio-DMARDS were more familiar with simple (p=0.016) and complex sensors (p=0.003), digital questionnaires (p=0.009) and diaries (p=0.006). 34% reported that their aerobic capacity had been tested whilst 57% reported no testing. Barriers for patients with rheumatic disease for measuring PA were reported by 43% and access to device (25%), uncertainty of handling the results (14–17%) and cost of device (10%) were most common.
Conclusions Although most patients with rheumatic diseases in our sample perceived measures of PA as important, familiarity and information of their use was largely lacking. Also, aerobic capacity assessment occurred infrequently. To motivate behavioural change towards a more physically active lifestyle and to support individuals' independence of health care, health professionals should facilitate awareness and knowledge of PA measures, encourage their patients to regularly self-monitor PA and more often offer PA and aerobic capacity testing to their patients.
Disclosure of Interest None declared