Please note that recruitment for this study is now closed.


OPAM-IA: A Physical Activity Intervention


Study Title: Effectiveness of Online Physical Activity Monitoring in Inflammatory Arthritis (OPAM-IA): A New Model of Care

Principal Investigator: 
Linda Li PT, PhD; Professor, University of British Columbia; Senior Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada

Study Start Date:
January 2017    

Study End Date: Recruitment Completed in 2019


Why do this research?


Physical activity is important in managing arthritis.

Reasons for inactivity include motivation, exercise doubts and limited counselling.

To address the problem of inactivity, we will test a new program at improving physical activity among rheumatoid (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.


What will be done?


OPAM-IA is a program that uses Fitbit Flex (wireless physical activity tracker) paired with FitViz (new application), and physical activity counselling to help people with RA and SLE be more physically active safely and at their own pace. Physical activity information will be collected by the Fitbit Flex and viewed through the FitViz by a physiotherapist to guide participant’s progress.

The OPAM-IA program consists of:

  1. A one-time group education session in the Greater Vancouver Area
  2. Using Fitbit Flex and FitViz app
  3. Online/telephone physical activity counselling.


Who is involved


Our team consists of 7 co-investigators, 6 research staff and 12 collaborators. Sixty people with RA and sixty people with SLE will be recruited. Eligibility criteria consists of:

  1. RA or SLE diagnosis.
  2. No previous experience in using any physical activity wearables.

Participants will be randomly assigned to one of the two groups to either receive the intervention immediately or wait 2 months before getting the intervention. Participants in the Immediate Group will be asked to attend a group education session, use a Fitbit Flex with the FitViz app, and receive counselling by a registered physiotherapist. Participants in the Delayed Group will wait 2 months to start the same intervention. Throughout the study, assessments will be done at the beginning, and at the end of months 2, 4, and 6. These assessments include an online questionnaire and wearing another research based accelerometer for 7 days.


How do people get involved?


For more information, please view the OPAM-IA recruitment notice. If you are Interested in participating, you can click here to access our short screening questionnaire and contact the study coordinator.

Contact: Juliane Chien, Research Assistant
Phone: 604.207.4032  |  National Toll Free: 1.844.707.4032
Email: jchien@arthritisresearch.ca


Who is funding the research?


The Arthritis Society


Who is on the research team?



Dr. Lynne Feehan, BScPT, MSc, PhD
Lead, Clinical Research, Rehabilitation, Fraser Health; Clinical Associate Professor, UBC

Dr. Antonio Aviña-Zubeita, MD, MSc, PhD
Assistant Professor, UBC

Dr. Charles Goldsmith, MSc, PhD
Professor, Biostatistics, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Anne Townsend, PhD
Research Associate, UBC

Dr. Catherine Backman, PhD, OT(C), FCAOT
Head, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, UBC

Dr. Diane Gromala, PhD
Professor, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Chris Shaw, PhD
Associate Professor, Simon Fraser University


Research Staff:

Halima Elmi, Research Coordinator, Arthritis Research Canada

Juliane Chien, Research Assistant, Arthritis Research Canada

Johnathan Tam, Research Assistant, Arthritis Research Canada

Jenny Leese, PhD trainee, Arthritis Research Canada

Jasmina Geldman, Research Coordinator, Arthritis Research Canada

Graham Macdonald, Research Assistant, Arthritis Research Canada



Greg Noonan, Mary Pack Arthritis Program

Paul Adam, Mary Pack Arthritis Program

Dr. Leigh Callahan, Thurston Arthritis Research Center

Pam Montie, Arthritis Patient Advisory Board

Cherly Koehn, Arthritis Consumer Experts

Dr. John Esdaile, University of British Columbia, Arthritis Research Canada

Dr. Kam Shojania, University of British Columbia, Arthritis Research Canada

Dr. David Collins, University of British Columbia

Dr. Jason Kur, Pacific Arthritis Centre

Dr. Jennifer Reynolds, Vancouver General Hospital

Dr. Ken Blocka, University of British Columbia

Dr. Shahin Jamal, University of British Columbia




Li LC, Feehan LM, Shaw C, Xie H, Sayre EC, Aviña-Zubeita A, Grewal N, Townsend AF, Gromala D, Noonan G, Backman CL. A technology-enabled counselling program versus a delayed treatment control to support physical activity participation in people with inflammatory arthritis: study protocol for the OPAM-IA randomized controlled trial. BMC Rheumatology. (DOI: 10.1186/s41927-017-0005-4) 1:6, 2017. To access publication, click here.

Li LC, Feehan LM, Xie H, Lu N, Shaw C, Gromala D, JA Avina-Zubieta, Koehn C, Hoens AM, English K, Tam J, Therrien S, Townsend AF, Noonan G, Backman CL. Efficacy of a Physical Activity Counselling Program with Use of Wearable Tracker in People with Inflammatory Arthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Arthritis Care & Research. (DOI: 10.1002/acr.24199; E-pub ahead of print) 2020. To access publication, click here.

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