Online physiotherapy for people with axial spondyloarthritis: quantitative and qualitative data from a cohort study

L. Paul, M.T. McDonald, A. McConnachie, S. Siebert, E.H. Coulter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Life-long exercise is essential in axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) management; however, long-term adherence is challenging. Online exercise programmes are an alternative to face-to-face physiotherapy. (1) To measure adherence to a 12-month, individualised, online physiotherapy programme for people with axSpA, and investigate the effects on disease activity, spinal mobility, work ability, quality of life and function. (2) To investigate associations between programme adherence and outcomes. (3) To explore participants’ views of the programme and factors affecting adherence. Participants were ‘non-exercisers’ recruited from rheumatology outpatient services. Adherence was measured using online diary entries. Outcomes included the BATH indices, health status (EQ5D), Ankylosing Spondylitis Quality of Life (ASQOL), exercise capacity (6MWT), Work, Productivity and Activity Impairment in AS (WPAI), Exercise Attitude Questionnaire (EAQ) and Exercise Motivations Inventory-2 (EMI-2) at baseline, 6 and 12 months. Interviews determined views on the intervention and factors affecting adherence. Fifty participants were recruited. Over the 52-week intervention, adherence (five times/week) ranged from 19% (± 30%) to 44% (± 35%). Significant improvements were found in disease activity (BASDAI), spinal mobility (BASMI), 6MWT, AsQoL and EQ5D-VAS at 6 and 12 months. There were no associations between adherence and baseline variables or demographics. Interviews suggested support from others, routine, and feeling the benefit positively affected adherence. Conversely, lack of motivation, life events and symptoms negatively affected adherence. A 12-month online physiotherapy programme significantly improved symptoms in people with axSpA who were not regular exercisers. Adherence reduced over the intervention period. Online exercise programmes may benefit people with axSpA; however, strategies to improve adherence are required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
JournalRheumatology International
Early online date21 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • axial spondyloarthritis
  • exercise
  • adherence
  • internet
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Health Professions
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Online physiotherapy for people with axial spondyloarthritis: quantitative and qualitative data from a cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this