Back to Journals » Clinical Interventions in Aging » Volume 15

Behavioral Conformity of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Older Couples with One Partner Suffering from End-Stage Osteoarthritis

Authors Moellenbeck B, Kalisch T, Gosheger G, Horst F, Seeber L, Theil C, Schmidt-Braekling T, Dieckmann R

Received 18 July 2019

Accepted for publication 11 December 2019

Published 17 January 2020 Volume 2020:15 Pages 61—74


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Burkhard Moellenbeck, 1 Tobias Kalisch, 1 Georg Gosheger, 1 Frank Horst, 2 Leonie Seeber, 1 Christoph Theil, 1 Tom Schmidt-Braekling, 1 Ralf Dieckmann 1

1Department of General Orthopedics and Tumor Orthopedics, Muenster University Hospital, Muenster, Germany; 2Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, St. Josef-Stift Sendenhorst, Sendenhorst, Germany

Correspondence: Burkhard Moellenbeck
Department of General Orthopedics and Tumor Orthopedics, Münster University Hospital, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Building A1, Münster 48149, Germany
Tel +49 251 83-45539
Fax +49 251 83-47989
Email [email protected]

Purpose: The present study investigates behavioral conformity regarding physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) in older couples where one partner suffers from osteoarthritis (OA). Hereby the question is addressed whether and to what extent the typical physical limitations of OA patients have negative effects on their partners.
Patients and Methods: The habitual PA and SB of end-stage osteoarthritis patients (n = 32, 52– 81 years | n = 14 gonarthrosis, n = 18 coxarthrosis), their spouses (n = 32, 50– 83 years) and control couples (n = 26 subjects, 52– 78 years) were assessed by accelerometry. Besides individual results of accelerometry hourly couple-specific performance ratios were calculated for four parameters of PA (number of steps, vector magnitude (VM), metabolic rate (MET), and total time in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA)) and two parameters of SB (number of sedentary bouts and total time of sedentary bouts per hour). Analyses of covariance were used to explore differences in hourly couple-specific performance ratios between couples affected by osteoarthritis and control couples.
Results: Significant differences in PA were observed between the three groups, whereby the patients showed the lowest PA and the subjects of the control group the highest PA. In contrast to this, SB did not differ between the three groups. The hourly analyses of couple-specific performance ratios revealed significant differences between the target couples (patients and spouses) and the control couples for all parameters of PA. Thereby, the deviance in PA between the patients and their spouses was always smaller than in control couples and also decreased with age. The investigation of SB, on the other hand, revealed larger deviations between the patients and their spouses as compared to control couples and no changes with age.
Conclusion: This study confirmed the known negative impact of osteoarthritis on the PA and SB of elderly patients. More important, however, was the finding that the patients’ spouses adapt to this poor health behavior and show reduced PA as well. Consequentially, spouses of OA patients should be considered as a risk group for inactivity-related diseases in old age. This should be considered in interventions that aim to use the individual support of spouses to increase the PA of OA patients.

Keywords: older couples, osteoarthritis, inactivity, synchrony, accelerometer

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]