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What factors influence physical activity participation in people with rheumatoid arthritis?

Riggs, Donna M; Killingback, Clare


Donna M Riggs


Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by periods of inflammation and remission. Physical activity can reduce disease activity and lower the risks of associated co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease. Despite the benefits, a high percentage of people with RA do not participate in regular physical activity.

Objective: The purpose of this qualitative literature review was to explore and synthesize the experiences of people with RA to develop better insight of the factors that influence physical activity participation.

Method: A systematic search was conducted across five online databases; MEDLINE, CINAHL, ScienceDirect, PsycINFO, Web of Science. Studies were assessed for quality, data were extracted and analyzed using thematic synthesis.

Results: A total of 186 articles were identified and screened against inclusion/exclusion criteria. Seven studies met the criteria and were included in this review. Five key themes were identified as the most significant factors to physical activity participation: professional knowledge and guidance; part of a community; knowing me, knowing RA; what’s in it for me; and where, when, how much? Professional knowledge and guidance was the underpinning factor influencing physical activity participation.

Conclusion: The results identify several internal and external factors that affect physical activity participation. To engage, facilitate and motivate patients to participate in physical activity, ongoing education and support from health care professionals is required. This will promote better symptom management and maintain functional independence. Additionally, health care professionals need to consider individual preferences and abilities when recommending physical activity.


Riggs, D. M., & Killingback, C. (2019). What factors influence physical activity participation in people with rheumatoid arthritis?. Physical Therapy Reviews,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 19, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 4, 2019
Publication Date Sep 4, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 17, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 5, 2020
Journal Physical therapy reviews
Print ISSN 1083-3196
Electronic ISSN 1743-288x
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Physical activity; Qualitative; Perspective; Rheumatoid arthritis
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in Physical Therapy Reviews, 2019. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.


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