October 11, 2018
2 min read

Wearable devices linked to increased activity in rheumatic diseases

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The use of wearable devices that track movement is effective in significantly increasing the amount of and time spent performing moderate to vigorous physical activity, with high short-term adherence, among patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, according to findings published in Arthritis Care & Research.

“Self-monitoring of physical activity, eg, with wearable activity trackers, is one of the most used strategies to increase physical activity for adults with disability,” Thomas Davergne, PT, MSc, of Sorbonne University in Paris, and colleagues wrote. “Via sensors, these devices help users track their daily movement and provide feedback on activity, eg, with monitor displays or companion smartphone tools. ... It is possible that adherence to [wearable activity trackers] may be different in patients with [rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases], potentially given physical limitations.”

To evaluate the impact of wearable technology on physical activity, as well as adherence among patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, the researchers performed a systematic literature review of all cohorts and controlled trials studying wearable-device use among this population published between 2000 and 2018. After searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Cochrane, Devergne and colleagues identified 2,378 references, including 17 studies representing 1,588 patients.

Wearable devices that track movement are effective in significantly increasing moderate to vigorous physical activity, with high short-term adherence, among patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, according to findings.
Source: Shutterstock

In their review, the researchers focused on data specifically pertaining to adherence, impact on physical activity and effect on pain, functionality, quality of life and fatigue. The researchers conducted meta-analyses using a random effect model.

According to Devergne and colleagues, in the four studies that assessed it, adherence was high, with patients wearing the devices a weighted mean of 92.7% of the time (SD = 4.6%). In addition, there was significant increase in physical activity associated with the use of wearable devices, with a mean difference 1,520 steps (95% CI, 580-2,460), or 16 minutes [95% CI, 2-29] of moderate to vigorous activity. However, there was a significant increase in pain among patients in intervention longer than 8 weeks (standardized mean difference = 0.25; 95% CI, 0.07-0.43).

“This study has brought to light interesting results regarding the use of [wearable activity trackers] for [rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases],” Davergne and colleagues wrote. “Short-term adherence to [wearable activity trackers] was high. Interventions using wearable activity trackers were effective to increase physical activity levels in rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, with a mean difference of 1,520 steps per day and 16 daily minutes spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Finally, the use of [wearable activity trackers] did not change symptoms at short term though an increase in pain was noted for long study durations.” – by Jason Laday

Disclosure: Davergne reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.