Table 2

Characteristics of the included studies

Authors, year, CountryResearch aimSampling methodsParticipant characteristicsData collectionMethod of analysis
Baxter et al,28 2016,
New Zealand
Explore the perceived barriers, facilitators and attitudes to exercise in people with RAUnclear sampling strategy
Rheumatology outpatient clinic at a public hospital
n=8, (F=8, M=0)
Age: m=62 years (56–82)
Disease duration: m=6 years (5-29)
Semistructured individual telephone interviewsThematic analysis
Bearne et al,27 2017,
United Kingdom
Explore participants’ experiences of EXTRA and consider refinements to EXTRAPurposive sampling
Attendance at the EXTRA sessions
n=12, (F=10, M=2)
Age: m=57.8 years (32–87)
Disease duration: m=33 months (12–65 months)
Semistructured individual interviewsThematic analysis
Brodin et al,14 2009,
Describe variation in the ways that individuals with RA understand how to determine the intensity of PAPurposive sampling
Physiotherapy clinics at hospitals
n=19, (F=12, M=7)
Age: m=58.5 years (21–82)
Disease duration: m=15 years (2–55)
Semistructured individual interviewsPhenomenographic analysis
Crowley and Kennedy,29 2009,
Identify barriers and facilitators to exercise in RA and methods to increase complianceSnowball sampling
Arthritis Ireland Limerick branch meeting
n=12, (F=12, M=0)
62.5 years (43–80)
Disease duration:
15.6 years (1-33)
Focus group interviewsThematic content analysis
Eurenius et al,37
2003, Sweden
Describe variations in attitudes to PA in a group of people with RAPurposive sampling
Outpatient rheumatology unit at a hospital
n=16, (F=12, M=4)
Md=61.5 years (32–78)
Disease duration:
Md=16.5 years (1–45)
Semistructured individual interviewsPhenomenographic analysis
Kamwendo et al,15 1999,
Achieve a better understanding of how patients with RA perceive and relate to PA in their everyday lifeConsecutive sampling
Outpatient RA clinic
n=10, (F=6, M=4)
Age: m=56.5 years (42–68)
Disease duration: m=10.9 years (1-28)
Individual interviewsPhenomenographic analysis
Lange et al,30 2019,
Explore aspects of participation in moderate-intensity to- high-intensity exercise with person-centred guidance influencing the transition to independent exercise for older adults with RA.Consecutive sampling
The intervention arm of a randomised controlled trial evaluating moderate- to- high-intensity exercise intervention with person-centred guidance
n=16, (F=11, M=5)
M=70.6 years (67-76)
Disease duration: m=14 years (3-45)
Semi-structured, individual, in-depth interviewsQualitative content analysis
Larkin et al,16 2017,
Explore the views of people who have RA on the design of a future PA interventionUnclear sampling strategy
Outpatient rheumatology clinic in an urban hospital
n=17, (F=12, M=5)
Age: m=59.8 years (35–83)
Disease duration: m=13.7 years (1-47)
Semi-structured individual telephone interviewsInductive thematic analysis
Law et al,31 2010,
United Kingdom
Describe the perceptions of the effects of exercise on joint health among RA patientsPurposive sampling
Department of Rheumatology, University health board
n=18, (F=12, M=6)
Age: 59.1 years (23–76)
Disease duration:
(2.5 months–33 years)
Focus group interviewsSystematic content analysis
Loeppenthin et al,34 2014,
Describe the meaning of PA maintenancePurposive sampling
The Danish Rheumatism Association and outpatient clinic of rheumatology
n=16, (F=12, M=4)
Age: m=50 years (37–67)
Disease duration: m=21 years (4–46)
Semi-structured individual interviewsSystematic text condensation
Nichols et al,32 2017,
United Kingdom
Explore participants’ experiences of the SARAH exercise trial and how successfully they adhered to the programme over timePurposive sampling
Four National health service trusts
n=14, (F=9, M=5)
M=61.4 years (44–82)
Disease duration:
13.2 years (1-36)
Semistructured individual interviewsInterpretive phenomenological analysis
Swärdh et al,17 2008,
Explore and describe ways of understanding exercise maintenancePurposive sampling
Four hospitals or primary healthcare physical therapy clinics
n=18, (F=14, M=4)
Age: m=60 years (34–83)
Disease duration:
(3–53 years)
Semi-structured individual interviewsPhenomenographic analysis
Swärdh et al,33 2020,
Explore perceptions of maintaining PA according to public health recommendations during the second year of an outsourced support programme.Purposive sampling
The outsourced 2 year PA support programme, and previously participation in semi-structured interviews after the first year of the programme.
n=18, (F=15, M=3)
Age: m=66.5 years (48–72)
Disease duration:
(1–25 years)
Semi-structured individual interviewsConventional content analysis
Thomas et al,35 2019,
United Kingdom
Explore the experiences, perspectives and strategies employed by people with RA who are successfully engaging with regular PAPurposive sampling
Outpatient rheumatology clinic
n=15 (F12, M=3)
Age: m=56 years (29–80)
Disease duration: m=13 years (10 months–46 years)
Semi-structured individual interviewsInductive thematic analysis
Withall et al,36 2016,
United Kingdom
Explore the views of people with RA regarding the feasibility and acceptability of potential PA programmesPurposive sampling
Rheumatology clinics at university and national hospitals
n=19, (F=15, M=4)
Age: m=59.9 years (31–73)
Disease duration: m=44.3 months (1–120)
Focus groupsInductive thematic analysis
  • PA, physical activity; RA, rheumatoid arthritis; SARAH, The Strengthening And stretching for Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand.