Patient perspective on exercise intervention in rheumatoid arthritis with high risk of cardiovascular disease: a pilot qualitative study

J. van den Hoek*, M. Sobejana, F. van Nes, G. Metsios, G. Kitas, M. van der Leeden, M. T. Nurmohamed, M. van der Esch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The objective of the study was to gain an insight into the perceptions and experiences of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and a high cardiovascular disease risk (CVD-RA) when undergoing an exercise intervention aimed at improving their cardiorespiratory fitness. This qualitative study was part of a pilot study, which investigated the effects of an exercise intervention on cardiorespiratory fitness in patients with CVD-RA. Six patients were invited to participate in face-to-face semi-structured interviews. We invited patients who completed the exercise intervention as well as patients who withdrew from the exercise intervention. The interviews were analyzed according to the method of thematic analysis. Six patients were interviewed, of whom four patients completed and two patients discontinued the exercise intervention. The mean (SD) age was 58 (9.7) years, the median disease duration was 10 years, and five patients were female. The analyses revealed seven themes that provided insight into perceptions and experiences: (1) ability to understand reasons for actions; (2) the need to be seen; (3) reaching their maximum effort; (4) experiencing their limits; (5) wanting personalized exercise therapy; (6) happy to be physically active; (7) benefits of exercise. Patients perceived that they were able to perform a cardiopulmonary exercise test with maximum effort and achieved the prescribed intensity of the exercise intervention. They also experienced an improvement in their physical activity by incorporating physical activity in their daily live. Overarching principles that re-occurred in the themes were: the need to be viewed as a person and the importance of feeling safe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1369-1376
Number of pages8
JournalRheumatology International
Issue number7
Early online date2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

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