Promoting physical activity in Rheumatoid Arthritis: developing a theory-based behaviour change intervention


  • L. Larkin
  • A. Fraser
  • S. Gallagher
  • N. Kennedy


Background: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory condition. Physical activity has numerous benefits for people who have RA, however interventions targeting physical activity behaviour have had limited efficacy. This project aimed to develop a theory-based behaviour change intervention to promote physical activity in people who have RA. Methods: Development was guided by the UK’s Medical Research Council Complex Interventions framework and consisted of three components; 1. Narrative review which explored the use of behaviour change theory in previous interventions 2. Systematic review which examined the content and structure of previous interventions 3. Qualitative study which explored the preferences of key stakeholders (people who have RA and health professionals) about the design of the intervention Findings: Previous interventions had limited consideration of behaviour change theory in design and had a large degree of variance in content, structure and delivery. A lack of knowledge of current physical activity recommendations for people who have RA was highlighted in the qualitative study, and delivery preferences were identified. The Theory of Planned Behaviour was selected and underpinned the mapping of the consolidated findings to the Behaviour Change Wheel. The proposed intervention will be a pilot study and will: - target moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity behaviour - be delivered by a physiotherapist in a community setting in four sessions - incorporate behaviour change techniques to facilitate and support behaviour change Discussion: We have developed a theory-based intervention which considers the preferences of key stakeholders. Future research will determine the feasibility and effectiveness of this intervention.





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