The association between psychological characteristics and physical activity levels in people with knee osteoarthritis: A cross-sectional analysis

Daisuke Uritani, Jessica Kasza, Penny K. Campbell, Ben Metcalf, Thorlene Egerton

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between psychological characteristics and physical activity levels, measured as the average number of steps per day, in people with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Methods: This study analysed baseline data from a randomized controlled trial (Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry reference: ACTRN12612000308897). A total of 167 adults aged over 50 years, with knee pain rated as four or more on an 11-point numeric rating scale, and knee OA diagnosed using American College of Rheumatology clinical criteria, were recruited from the community (62 men and 105 women, mean age, 62.2 ± 7.5 years). The average number of steps per day over seven consecutive days was measured using an accelerometer-based device. Psychological characteristics evaluated were: depressive symptoms (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale), self-efficacy (Arthritis Self-Efficacy Scale for pain and other symptoms), fear of movement (Brief Fear of Movement Scale for Osteoarthritis), and pain catastrophizing (Pain Catastrophizing Scale). The association between the average number of steps per day and psychological characteristics was analyzed using a multiple linear regression analysis, with the average number of steps per day as the dependent variable, adjusting for each psychological characteristic separately, and age, sex, body mass index, and pain entered as covariates. Results: There was evidence that the amount of physical activity was associated with fear of movement (coefficient [B]: - 117, 95% confidence interval [95%CI]: - 227 to - 8) and with pain catastrophizing (B: -44, 95%CI: - 86 to - 1). The association with self-efficacy was similar (B:117, 95%CI: - 12 to 246). However, the direction of the association with depressive symptoms was less clear (B: -59, 95%CI: - 138 to 19). Conclusions: The results of this study revealed that the relationship was such that lower fear of movement and lower pain catastrophizing may be associated with more steps per day. It may be hypothesized that fear of moving and pain catastrophizing lead to activity avoidance and that strategies to improve these disease-related psychological aspects may be useful in enhancing physical activity participation, although this hypothesis is highly speculative and needs further testing given the cross-sectional design of this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number269
Number of pages7
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2020


  • Depression
  • Fear of movement
  • Knee
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain
  • Pain catastrophizing
  • Physical activity

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