Inequity in exercise-based interventions for adults with rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review

Natalie Jenkins, Nishita Jhundoo, Philippa Rainbow, Katie Sheehan, Lindsay Bearne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objectives: This systematic review describes the extent to which PROGRESS-Plus equity factors were considered in the eligibility criteria of trials of exercise interventions for adults with RA. Methods: Electronic databases were searched for published (Cinahl, Embase, Medline, Physiotherapy Evidence Database), unpublished (Opengrey) and registered ongoing (International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number registry) randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of exercise interventions for adults with RA. Two authors independently performed study selection and quality assessment (Cochrane risk of bias tool). Results: A total of 9696 records were identified. After screening, 50 trials were included. All trials had either some concerns or high risk of bias and reported at least one PROGRESS-Plus equity factor within the eligibility criteria; this included place of residence, personal characteristics (age and disability), language, sex, social capital, time-dependent factors or features of relationship factors. Where reported, this equated to exclusion of 457 of 1337 potential participants (34%) based on equity factors. Conclusion: This review identified the exclusion of potential participants within exercise-based interventions for people with RA based on equity factors that might affect health-care opportunities and outcomes. This limits the generalizability of results, and yet this evidence is used to inform management and service design. Trials need to optimize participation, particularly for people with cardiovascular conditions, older adults and those with cognitive impairments. Reasons for exclusions need to be justified. Further research needs to address health inequalities to improve treatment accessibility and the generalizability of research findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberrkac095
JournalRheumatology Advances in Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2023


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