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Identifying factors hampering physical activity in longstanding rheumatoid arthritis: what is the role of glucocorticoid therapy?

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2014 Vol.32, N°2
PI 0155, PF 0161
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PMID: 24480192 [PubMed]

Received: 23/01/2013
Accepted : 01/07/2013
In Press: 24/01/2014
Published: 09/04/2014


To identify factors hampering the level of physical activity in longstanding rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, and to evaluate the effects of glucocorticoid therapy on physical activity.
Patient characteristics, disease characteristics and cardiovascular parameters were recorded in 170 patients, who participated in a study about glucose metabolism in longstanding RA treated with or without glucocorticoids. Disease activity scores (DAS28) were calculated and x-rays of hands and feet were taken and scored according to the Sharp van der Heijde score (SHS). Participants completed the health assessment questionnaire and short questionnaire to assess health-enhancing physical activity (SQUASH), which reflect physical disability and physical activity, respectively. Adherence rates to recommendations on physical activity were calculated, and patients were categorised as fully adhering, insufficiently adhering (adherence on less than the recommended number of days per week) or inactive (adherence on none of the days).
Forty-four percent of the patients showed adherence to the recommended minimum level of physical activity, and 22% were classified as inactive. Higher DAS28 and SHS, glucocorticoid therapy, and presence of cardiovascular risk factors were associated with lower total SQUASH physical activity scores univariately. In a multivariate model, higher age, higher body mass index (BMI), higher DAS28, and higher SHS negatively influenced the score significantly; cardiovascular risk factors and glucocorticoid therapy were no longer significantly influencing physical activity.
Physical activity in longstanding RA is hampered by higher age, higher BMI, higher disease activity, and more radiographic joint damage. Glucocorticoid therapy was not identified as independent risk factor in multivariate analyses.

Rheumatology Article