Rheumatology International

, Volume 35, Issue 10, pp 1631–1640 | Cite as

Behaviour change interventions to promote physical activity in rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review

  • Louise Larkin
  • Stephen Gallagher
  • Fiona Cramp
  • Charles Brand
  • Alexander Fraser
  • Norelee Kennedy
Review Article - Outcomes Research


Research has shown that people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) do not usually participate in enough physical activity to obtain the benefits of optimal physical activity levels, including quality of life, aerobic fitness and disease-related characteristics. Behaviour change theory underpins the promotion of physical activity. The aim of this systematic review was to explore behaviour change interventions which targeted physical activity behaviour in people who have RA, focusing on the theory underpinning the interventions and the behaviour change techniques utilised using specific behaviour change taxonomy. An electronic database search was conducted via EBSCOhost, PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Web of Science databases in August 2014, using Medical Subject Headings and keywords. A manual search of reference lists was also conducted. Randomised control trials which used behaviour change techniques and targeted physical activity behaviour in adults who have RA were included. Two reviewers independently screened studies for inclusion. Methodological quality was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Five studies with 784 participants were included in the review. Methodological quality of the studies was mixed. The studies consisted of behaviour change interventions or combined practical physical activity and behaviour change interventions and utilised a large variety of behaviour change techniques. Four studies reported increased physical activity behaviour. All studies used subjective methods of assessing physical activity with only one study utilising an objective measure. There has been varied success of behaviour change interventions in promoting physical activity behaviour in people who have RA. Further studies are required to develop and implement the optimal behaviour change intervention in this population.


Physical activity Rheumatoid arthritis Promotion Behaviour change 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

296_2015_3292_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 23 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louise Larkin
    • 1
  • Stephen Gallagher
    • 2
  • Fiona Cramp
    • 3
  • Charles Brand
    • 1
  • Alexander Fraser
    • 4
    • 5
  • Norelee Kennedy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Therapies, Faculty of Education and Health SciencesUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Education and Health SciencesUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland
  3. 3.Faculty of Health and Life SciencesUniversity of the West of EnglandBristolUK
  4. 4.University of Limerick Medical SchoolUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland
  5. 5.University Hospital LimerickLimerickIreland

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