Examination of Self-Regulatory Efficacy and Pain Among Individuals Challenged by Arthritis Flares

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Purpose/Objective:Public health guidelines for physical activity (PA) for individuals with arthritis are 150 min/week. Self-regulatory efficacy to plan and schedule activity (SRE-SP) was greater for individuals meeting guidelines in studies when symptoms were usual. Extreme symptoms of a flare presumably challenge or block PA adherence. We found it surprising that the question of whether pain intensity and SRE-SP differ within the same person as a function of symptom severity (i.e., flare vs. no-flare) and PA level has not been addressed.Research Method/Design:Participants (N = 53) reported SRE-SP and SRE to overcome arthritis barriers (SRE-AB) during the following month, average usual and flare-pain intensity, and PA volume in the past 6 months. Mixed-model ANOVAs compared those meeting or not meeting PA guidelines in both flare and no-flare conditions.Results:Main effects for SRE (SP and AB) were significant for within flare/no-flare comparisons (p < .001) and for SRE-SP were significant between PA groups (p < .05). Individuals meeting PA guidelines have the advantage of greater SRE-SP to motivate adherence than those of the less active. All participants' activity was less efficacious during a flare. For pain intensity, a within-subjects flare versus no-flare effect (p < .001) confirmed that flares are perceived as more of an obstacle or challenge for engaging in PA.Conclusion/Implications:Regardless of meeting or not meeting PA guidelines, participants reported lower SRE and higher pain intensity during a flare. PA adherence during a flare may require self-regulation of PA to be active, and in particular, to be able to meet recommended guidelines, relative to symptom severity.

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