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Using Physical Activity Trackers in Arthritis Self-Management: A Qualitative Study of Patient and Rehabilitation Professional Perspectives

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • J. Leese
  • G.G. Macdonald
  • B.C. Tran
  • R. Wong
  • C.L. Backman
  • A.F. Townsend
  • A.M. Davis
  • C.A. Jones
  • D. Gromala
  • J.A. Avina-Zubieta
  • A.M. Hoens
  • L.C. Li
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Arthritis Care and Research
Issue number2
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)227-236
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date8/10/18
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Objective: To compare and contrast the perspectives of patients with arthritis and those of rehabilitation professionals regarding starting and sustaining use of physical activity trackers (PATs). Methods: We conducted focus group sessions with patients, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists in Ontario, Alberta, or British Columbia, Canada. To be eligible, patients must have self-reported a diagnosis of inflammatory or osteoarthritis. Rehabilitation professionals reported that at least 40% of their caseload was dedicated to arthritis care. Participants had any level of experience with PATs. A thematic analytic approach was used. Results: The following 3 themes were identified: 1) anticipating sharing objective measures of physical activity. Participants agreed that use of PATs had the potential to improve consultations between patients with arthritis and rehabilitation professionals but were uncertain how to achieve this potential; 2) perceived or experienced barriers to start or continue using a PAT. Participants shared doubts about whether existing PATs would meet specific needs of patients with arthritis and expressed concerns about possible negative impacts; and 3) bolstering motivation? Although there was agreement that use of PATs could bolster the motivation of patients who were already active, patients and rehabilitation professionals had different opinions regarding whether use of PATs alone would motivate patients to start increasing activity levels. Conclusion: Our study highlights similarities and differences between the perspectives of patients and rehabilitation professionals regarding the potential value and risks of integrating PATs into arthritis self-management. Despite agreement about the potential of PATs, participants were uncertain how to effectively incorporate these tools to enhance patient–clinician consultations and had differing views about whether use of PATs would support a patient's motivation to be active. © 2018, American College of Rheumatology