• Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • exercise;
  • health



Organized exercise programs for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are useful to enhance physical activity and fitness. However, participation and adherence rates of these programs are low. This study aimed to identify demographic, personal and disease-related factors interfering with implementing an exercise program for RA.


A random sample of ambulatory RA patients from a single centre was divided into two groups, depending on their willingness to participate in an exercise program. Subsequently, demographic data (gender, age, disease duration and educational level) and disease-related and personal factors were obtained (Disease Activity Score; Short Form 36 [SF-36]; Health Assessment Questionnaire; Global Disease Activity; and also the Utrecht Coping List [UCL], Illness Cognition Questionnaire; TAMPA scale and modified Baecke questionnaire).


Of the 154 people completing the survey, 113 (73%) indicated that they were willing to participate in an exercise program. These positive responders (PR) were more often female (p < 0.05), and had a higher educational level (p < 0.05). In the negative responders (NR), higher scores were found in the general health perception (54.7; [SD 18.3] versus 47.4; [SD 20.8]) and vitality (61.6 [SD 19.8] versus 53.7 [SD 20.1] sections of the SF-36, and a lower score was found on the reassuring thoughts subscale of the UCL (11.9 [SD 2.7] versus 12.9 [SD 2.7]) compared with the PR (all p < 0.05).


Although few differences were found between the groups, some insights regarding pitfalls in implementing an exercise program were highlighted. Further insights into external and personal motivators for patients are needed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.