Background Sleep disturbance is common in people who have inflammatory arthritis and can contribute to disability, symptomatology, and increased healthcare use. Poor sleep quality and disturbances may exacerbate pain in this disease, which may further lead to reduced levels of physical activity. Little is known regarding the current practice of Health Professionals in Rheumatology on their engagement with patients in discussing their sleep quality and disturbances therefore, it is important to investigate if there are any educational needs in this important area of practice.
Objectives To investigate the awareness of Irish Health Professionals in Rheumatology on their patients' engagement when discussing sleep quality, sleep disturbances and physical activity, among Irish people who have Inflammatory Arthritis.
Methods Members from the Irish Rheumatology Health Professionals Society (IRHPS) (n=43) were invited to participate in a cross-sectional survey hosted on SurveyMonkey(R)TM. Ethics approval was received through the University of Limerick. Descriptive statistics, Chi-square tests/Fisher's exact tests were used to analyse the data using SPSS v22.
Results Twenty eight (65%) Health Professional's responded. Results found the mean number of years qualified to be 16.93 (SD 6.82), mean number of years working in Rheumatology to be 10.07 (SD 4.04) and 40% of respondents reporting half of their patient workload coming from people who have inflammatory arthritis. Just 52% discuss sleep with their patients with 46% mentioning fatigue as their main reason when enquiring. Of those who do discuss sleep, 100% of their patients mentioned “pain” and “waking up in the middle of the night or early morning” as disturbances when discussing their sleep, while 67% reported “taken prescribed or over the counter medication” to help with their sleep. There was no statistically significant association between longer years qualified, more years working with people with inflammatory arthritis or health profession, when discussing sleep. When using the SQUASH questionnaire, Health Professional's physical activity levels were 2,248 minutes per week, which exceeds the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) physical activity guidelines however, is low compared to other physical activity Health Professional surveys from European countries.
Conclusions Only half of Irish Health Professional's discuss sleep with their patients, with fatigue as the main reason when enquiring. Health Professional's meet the physical activity guidelines however, are less active than their European peers. There is a need to develop education and training for physiotherapists in the importance of enquiring about their patients sleep quality and disturbances and the potential impact it has on their physical activity levels. In addition, the effects of physical activity interventions on poor sleep quality and disturbances needs to be examined so that Health Professional's are in a better position to promote health and well-being in people with Inflammatory Arthritis, in this important area of practice.
Disclosure of Interest None declared