Riemann-Lorenz K, Wienert J, Streber R, Motl RW, Coote S, Heesen C

PURPOSE: To explore the views of experts on facilitators and barriers of long-term physical activity among people with multiple sclerosis living in different European countries. METHODS: We conducted semi-structured telephone or face to face interviews with twelve multiple sclerosis and physical activity experts (scientists, practitioners, patient representatives) from five European countries. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: We identified 20 themes and categorized them into environmental and personal factors. The most frequently mentioned and intensively discussed themes were environmental factors. The themes were structured according to possible intervention level: organizational, interpersonal and intrapersonal level themes. Themes at the organizational level comprised availability, access and quality of exercise/physical activity options; health system characteristics like services and organization, health professionals and information provision. The interpersonal level comprised social support and peer support. Disease related factors were the most frequently mentioned intrapersonal level theme. In our study, more codes were obtained for environmental factors than for personal factors. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggested that environmental factors may need to be addressed in particular to increase long-term physical activity adherence. This study will inform the design of a survey questionnaire assessing possible barriers and facilitators among people with multiple sclerosis. Implications for rehabilitation Long-term physical activity among people with multiple sclerosis is subject to a number of modifiable determinants: personal and environmental factors. Multiple sclerosis exercise experts emphasized the importance of environmental factors on the organizational and interpersonal level. Future physical activity interventions should be guided by a social-ecological perspective. Addressing environmental and personal factors simultaneously to reach optimal long-term outcomes should be considered in future interventions.

Disabil Rehabil. 2019 Mar 23:1-13

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