Exploring the health benefits of everyday activities for people with inflammatory arthritis


Scientific Study Title:

The health-promoting potential of occupations characterized as creative
and social: An exploratory study of adults with and without inflammatory arthritis


Principal Investigator:

Catherine Backman, Professor, UBC; Senior Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada


Study Start Date: 

09/2018 (recruitment ended December 2020)

Study End Date: 



Why do this research?

Other than physical activity, there is little research data on the types of activities that support living well with inflammatory types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis). The purpose of the study is to explore the health benefits of people’s everyday activities, with a focus on the social and creative aspects of those activities. To identify the impact of arthritis on engaging in daily activities, we are studying adults with and without inflammatory arthritis and measuring the differences between the two groups. We expect results to identify the attributes of different activities that promote health, and offer activity recommendations for people living with inflammatory arthritis.


What will be done?

Participants attend a two-hour group session to fill out health and activity questionnaires. Questionnaires measure physical and mental health, occupational balance, stress, and characteristics of 10 activities selected and relevant to each participant. Participants also provide blood samples using a pinprick blood test so we can measure telomere length, a marker that indicates aging at the cellular level. Participants are invited to repeat the same procedures after one year to see what happens over time. A targeted 150 participants will be involved in this study (75 with arthritis, 75 without).
Data analysis will examine the associations between health and activity characteristics, and differences between adults with and without arthritis.


COVID-19 Update:

The one-year follow-up portion of the study is paused due to the pandemic. However, we are inviting participants to repeat online versions of the health and activity questionnaires so we can assess the impact of the public health advisories to stay home and self-isolation.


Who is involved? 

Eligible participants are non-smoking adults with inflammatory types of arthritis (like rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile arthritis) AND adults who do not have arthritis (generally healthy).

The student PhD investigator (Flora To-Miles) oversees this study, under the supervision of the principal investigator (Dr. Catherine Backman). The Arthritis Patient Advisory Board is involved in this study, with patient partners contributing to all phases of the study, from design to sharing results.


Flora To-Miles, OT; PhD Candidate, UBC

Dr. Susan Forwell, Associate Professor, UBC

Dr. Eli Puterman, Assistant Professor, UBC


Members of the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board, including:

Katie LeBlanc

Philippa Tattersall

Funding Agency:
The Arthritis Society, UBC Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy
If you have any questions, please contact

Flora To-Miles