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Physical Activity to Reduce Fatigue in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

OBJECTIVE: Effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) fatigue are limited. We tested the effect of a pedometer-based intervention on increasing physical activity and decreasing fatigue among individuals with RA.

METHODS: Participants completed baseline questionnaires; had 1 week of activity monitoring; were randomized to control (education [EDUC]), pedometer and step-monitoring diary (PED), or pedometer and diary plus step targets (PED+) groups, and were followed for 21 weeks. At week 10, questionnaires were administered by phone to all participants. During the final week, all participants again had 1 week of activity monitoring. Primary outcomes were changes in average weekly steps and fatigue (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System 7-item questionnaire) from baseline to week 21. Secondary outcomes were self-reported disease activity, physical function, pain interference, and depressive symptoms. Changes in steps were tested using a linear mixed model. Changes in fatigue were tested with repeated-measures models, including baseline, week-10, and week-21 scores.

RESULTS: A total of 96 individuals participated. Eight did not complete the 21-week assessments. Both intervention groups significantly increased steps (+1,441 [P = 0.004] for PED and +1,656 [P = 0.001] for PED+), and the EDUC group decreased steps (-747 [P = 0.14]) (group-by-time interaction P = 0.0025). Between-group changes in fatigue were not significantly different (interaction P = 0.21). Mean changes in fatigue scores from baseline to week 21 were -1.6 (with-group P = 0.26), -3.2 (P = 0.02), and -4.8 (P = 0.0002) for EDUC, PED, and PED+ groups, respectively. Function and self-reported disease activity also improved in the PED and PED+ groups.

CONCLUSION: Provision of pedometers, with and without providing step targets, was successful in increasing activity levels and decreasing fatigue in this sample of individuals with RA.

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