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Intern Med J. 2010 Jul;40(7):512-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2009.01989.x. Epub 2009 May 21.

What is associated with being active in arthritis? Analysis from the Obstacles to Action study.

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  • 1Counties Manukau District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand.



Many adults with arthritis do not achieve physical activity levels recommended for good health. This study aimed to identify factors associated with physical activity participation in people with arthritis.


1106 out of 8163 adults with self-reported arthritis were identified from the 2003 Obstacles to Action study. Participants were classified as active if they reported 30 min of moderate activity > or = 5 days a week or 20 min of vigorous activity > or = 3 days a week (n = 613), or insufficiently active if they did not (n = 438). Sociodemographic factors, attitudes, self-efficacy, motivators and barriers to being active were analysed.


Active people with arthritis had a lower burden of chronic disease than insufficiently active people (18% with three or more chronic medical conditions vs 33%, P < 0.0001). Active participants believed more strongly in the benefits of physical activity, reported higher levels of encouragement from others and had greater overall levels of self-efficacy when compared with the less active participants (P for all <0.0001). Arthritis, fatigue and discomfort were ranked by both groups as the top three barriers. However, the active participants reported lower impact scores for these barriers than the inactive group (P for all <0.0001). These findings persisted after adjusting for occupational status, body mass index and comorbidities.


Active adults with arthritis have lower levels of chronic disease, greater self-efficacy and fewer psychosocial barriers. Recognition of such barriers and motivators may be useful when designing intervention programmes to help people with arthritis initiate or intensify physical activity participation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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