Background/purpose Given conflicting findings, the purpose of this study was to use the meta-analytic approach to examine the effects of exercise (aerobic, strength training or both) on anxiety in adults with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases (AORD).
Methods Randomised controlled exercise intervention trials ≥4weeks in adults ≥18 years of age with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia were included. Studies were located by searching eight electronic databases, cross-referencing and expert review. Dual selection and data abstraction of studies were performed. Hedge’s standardised effect size (ES) was calculated for each result and pooled using the recently developed inverse heterogeneity model. Two-tailed z-alpha values ≤0.05 and non-overlapping 95% CI were considered statistically significant. Heterogeneity was estimated using Q and I2 with alpha values ≤0.10 for Q considered statistically significant. Small-study effects were examined using funnel plots and Egger’s regression test. In addition, the number needed to treat (NNT), percentile improvement and meta-regression were conducted.
Results Of the 639 citations screened, 14 studies representing 926 initially enrolled participants (539 exercise, 387 control) met the criteria for inclusion. Length of training (mean±SD) averaged 15.8±6.7 weeks, frequency 3.3±1.3 times per week and duration 28.8±14.3 min per session. Overall, statistically significant reductions in anxiety were found (exercise minus control changes ES=−0.40, 95% CI −0.65 to −0.15, tau2=0.14; Q=40.3, P=0.0004; I2 =62.8%). The NNT was 6 with a percentile improvement of 15.5% and an estimated 5.3 million inactive US adults with AORD improving their anxiety if they started exercising regularly. Statistically significant small-study effects were observed (P<0.0001).
Conclusions Exercise is associated with reductions in anxiety among adults with selected types of AORD. However, a need exists for additional, well-designed, randomised controlled trials on this topic.
PROSPERO registration number CRD42016048728.
- systematic review
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Contributors GAK was responsible for the conception and design, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting the initial manuscript and revising it critically for important intellectual content. KSK was responsible for the conception and design, acquisition of data, drafting the initial manuscript and revising all drafts critically for important intellectual content. LFC was responsible for the conception and design, acquisition of data, drafting the initial manuscript and revising all drafts critically for important intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Funding This meta-analysis was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, grant number R01AR061346 (GAK, principal investigator).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement All data are available upon request from the corresponding author.
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