Background and Purpose. When factors that influence exercise behavior are known, health care professionals can more likely design and modify patient education materials targeted to promote exercise behavior. This study aimed to identify predictors of exercise behavior in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 6 months after a visit with their rheumatologist. Subjects and Methods. Twenty-five rheumatologists and 132 patients with rheumatoid arthritis participated. One hundred thirteen patients (85.6%) completed the 6-month follow-up. Rheumatologists and patients completed baseline questionnaires and were audiotaped during a subsequent visit. Physical function and exercise behavior were ascertained via questionnaire 6 months following the visit. Multivariate logistic regression identified predictors of exercise behavior at 6 months. Eighty-nine patients (79%) were female. The average age was 54.8 years (SD=14.4, range=20–94). The mean duration of illness was 9.8 years (SD=8.7, range=<1–35). Patients were moderately impaired (mean Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey [SF-36] function score=49.3, SD=27.5). Thirty-four patients (27%) were exercising 6 months after visiting their rheumatologist. More than 50% of the rheumatologists had 5 or more years of clinical experience, 18 (72%) were male, and 10 (42%) reported they exercised regularly. Results. Predictors of exercise behavior at 6 months were patients' past history of exercise (odds ratio=6.8, 95% confidence interval=3.1–15) and rheumatologists' current exercise behavior (odds ratio=0.26, 95% confidence interval= 0.09–0.77). Discussion and Conclusion. Patients were nearly 7 times more likely to exercise 6 months after visiting their rheumatologist if they participated in exercise in the past. If a patient's rheumatologist was currently performing aerobic exercise, the patient was 26% more likely to be engaged in exercise at follow-up. These data may be useful in understanding patient motivation to participate in exercise.

  • Received July 31, 2003.
  • Accepted February 25, 2004.
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