Predicting Exercise from Arthritis Flares and Self-Regulatory Efficacy to Overcome Flare Barriers

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Jocelyn E. Blouin
Miranda A. Cary


Adults with arthritis struggle to adhere to moderate-vigorous exercise, which is an effective disease self-management strategy. The understanding of theory-based psychosocial factors related to exercise is needed. According to self-efficacy theory, self-regulatory efficacy to overcome challenging barriers may be one such factor. Adults often report that arthritis flares, which involve increases in typical arthritis symptoms (e.g., pain, fatigue), pose a challenge to exercise. However, no research has examined associations between arthritis flares, self-regulatory efficacy to overcome flare barriers, and exercise. The purpose of the study was to examine whether arthritis flares and self-regulatory efficacy to overcome flare barriers predicted weekly moderate-vigorous exercise volume. Ninety adults (Mage = 49.36 ± 16.38 years) with self-reported medically diagnosed arthritis responded to an online survey assessing arthritis flares, self-regulatory efficacy, prior moderate-vigorous exercise, and demographics. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis to predict exercise volume from arthritis flares (step 1) and self-regulatory efficacy to overcome flare barriers (step 2) was significant (R2 adjusted = .14, p < .001). Self-regulatory efficacy was the sole significant predictor in the full model (R2 change = .11, standardized β = .35, p < .001). These findings are the first to illustrate that individuals’ confidence to overcome flare barriers, and not merely the experience of a flare, predict exercise. These findings are important because efficacy beliefs can be changed via theory-based interventions. If future research supports a causal relationship between self-regulatory efficacy to overcome flare barriers and exercise, then an intervention can be designed and tested for improvements in efficacy and, in turn, exercise.