Exercise has proven benefits in rheumatologic disease including reducing inflammation and improving symptoms. A Group Strength Training (GST) program design has improved adherence to exercise in primary care patients but the effect is unknown in rheumatology patients. We examined the interest of rheumatology patients with different diagnoses and the effect of comorbidities in pursuing an organized GST program.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of patients from a rheumatology practice in central Pennsylvania in February and April 2017. This survey assessed self-reported interest of patients in a GST program in addition to demographics, comorbidities, and quality of life measures. Primary care data from a previous survey were used for comparative analysis for the primary outcome: interest in a GST program.
Fifty percent of rheumatology patients were interested in a GST program and there was no difference of interest compared to primary care patients (X2 = 2.04, p = 0.15). There was no difference in interest in a GST program for rheumatology patients with poor health compared to patients with good health (OR = 0.9, p = 0.8). Female patients were more interested in a group strength training program than male patients (OR = 3.7, p = 0.001). Patients with a BMI of 25-30 (OR = 2.2, p = 0.04) or > 30 (OR = 1.7, p = 0.12) were more interested compared to those with a normal BMI. There was no difference in interest in group strength training regardless of rheumatology diagnosis or comorbidities.
Our data suggest that rheumatology patients are interested in a GST program regardless of disease, medical comorbidities, perceived mental or physical health, or education level. Further study is needed to determine the effects of GST on rheumatologic diseases.