The aims of this study were to examine the longitudinal and bi-directional associations of pain and fatigue with sedentary, standing and stepping time in RA.
People living with RA undertook identical assessments at baseline (T1, n = 104) and 6-month follow-up (T2, n = 54). Participants completed physical measures (e.g. height, weight, BMI) and routine clinical assessments to characterize RA disease activity (DAS-28). Participants also completed questionnaires to assess physical function (HAQ), pain (McGill Pain Questionnaire) and fatigue (Multidimensional Assessment of Fatigue Scale). Participants’ free-living sedentary, standing and stepping time (min/day) were assessed over 7 days using the activPAL3µ™. For the statistical analysis, hierarchical regression analysis was employed to inform the construction of path models, which were subsequently used to examine bi-directional associations of pain and fatigue with sedentary, standing and stepping time.
Specifically, where significant associations were observed in longitudinal regression analysis, the bi-directionality of these associations was further investigated via path analysis. For regression analysis, bootstrapping was applied to regression models to account for non-normally distributed data, with significance confirmed using 95% CIs. Where variables were normally distributed, parametric, non-bootstrapped statistics were also examined (significance confirmed via β coefficients, with P < 0.05) to ensure all plausible bi-directional associations were examined in path analysis.
Longitudinal bootstrapped regression analysis indicated that from T1 to T2, change in pain, but not fatigue, was positively associated with change in sedentary time. In addition, change in pain and fatigue were negatively related to change in standing time. Longitudinal non-bootstrapped regression analysis demonstrated a significant positive association between change in fatigue with change in sedentary time. Path analysis supported the hypothesized bi-directionality of associations between change in pain and fatigue with change in sedentary time (pain, β = 0.38; fatigue, β = 0.44) and standing time (pain, β = –0.39; fatigue, β = –0.50).
Findings suggest pain and fatigue are longitudinally and bi-directionally associated with sedentary and standing time in RA.