'I learnt so much about being active': experiences of people with rheumatoid arthritis on the impact of a physiotherapist-led intervention to encourage physical activity

Part of Special Series: WONCA World Rural Health Conference Abstracts 2022go to url


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Sean McKenna1
Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist *

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Louise Larkin2

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Tadhg Pyne3
Research Assistant

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Stephen Gallagher4

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Liam Glynn5
MD, Professor of General Practice

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Alexander Fraser6
Clinical Director

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Bente Esbensen7

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Norelee Kennedy8
Associate Professor Physiotherapy, Vice President Research


*Dr Sean McKenna


1 Department of Physiotherapy, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital, Health Service Executive, Croom, Ireland

2, 3, 8 School of Allied Health, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

4 Department of Psychology, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

5 School of Medicine, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

6 Department of Rheumatology, University Hospitals Limerick Group, Limerick, Ireland

7 Copenhagen Center for Arthritis Research, Center for Rheumatology and Spine Diseases, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark


10 January 2023 Volume 23 Issue 1


RECEIVED: 20 September 2022

ACCEPTED: 20 September 2022


McKenna S, Larkin L, Pyne T, Gallagher S, Glynn L, Fraser A, Esbensen B, Kennedy N.  'I learnt so much about being active': experiences of people with rheumatoid arthritis on the impact of a physiotherapist-led intervention to encourage physical activity. Rural and Remote Health 2023; 23: 8104. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH8104


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence

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Introduction: Physical activity (PA) is an important component in improving the health of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A Physiotherapist-led Intervention to Promote PA in people with RA (PIPPRA) was undertaken using the Behaviour Change (BC) Wheel. A qualitative study was conducted post intervention involving participants and healthcare professionals who participated in a pilot RCT.

Methods: Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with the schedule exploring: experience and views of the intervention; experience and suitability of outcome measures used; and perceptions of BC and PA. Thematic analysis was used as an analytical approach. The COREQ checklist provided guidance throughout.

Results: Fourteen participants and eight healthcare staff participated. Three main themes were generated from participants: (1) positive experience of intervention – 'I found it very knowledgeable to help me get stronger'; (2) improvement in self-management – '… motivate me maybe to go back to doing a little bit more exercise'; and (3) negative impact of COVID-19 – 'I don’t think doing it online again would be really good at all'. Two main themes were generated from healthcare professionals: (1) positive learning experience of delivery – 'Really made me realise the importance of discussing physical activity with patients'; and (2) positive approach to recruitment – 'Very professional team showing the importance of having a study member on site'.

Discussion: Participants had a positive experience of being involved in a BC intervention in order to improve their PA and found it acceptable as an intervention. Healthcare professionals also had a positive experience, in particular the importance of recommending PA in empowering patients.

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