Fatigue can significantly affect the quality of life of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and effective treatments are limited. Research has identified physical inactivity as a primary independent predictor of fatigue. Despite the demonstrated safety of exercise and published guidelines recommending physical activity for RA patients, many people living with RA are physically inactive. The use of pedometers may provide a simple, effective way to increase physical activity and decrease fatigue levels in RA patients.
To test this hypothesis, Patricia Katz, PhD, and colleagues from the University of California San Francisco, Arthritis Research Group, conducted a 21-week, randomized, controlled trial to determine the effect of increasing physical activity on fatigue among individuals with RA. Their results were published in the January 2018 issue of Arthritis Care & Research. The study included a control group, which received only education, and two intervention groups, both of which received pedometers and daily step-monitoring diaries, but with different levels of step guidance. One of the intervention groups received individualized daily step targets that were increased by 10% every two weeks, depending on individual patient progress. Step count data from both intervention groups were collected every two weeks. Additionally, at Week 10, questionnaires were administered by phone to all participants.
Overall, 96 individuals participated in the trial. Fatigue was measured with the PROMIS Fatigue Short Form 7a questionnaire. Researchers also collected data on disease activity, physical function, depression and pain as secondary outcomes.