Therapists' experiences of remotely delivering cognitive-behavioural or graded-exercise interventions for fatigue: a qualitative evaluation

Sarah E Bennett* (Corresponding Author), Celia Almeida, Eva-Maria Bachmair, Stuart R Gray, Karina Lovell, Lorna Paul, Alison Wearden, Gary J Macfarlane, Neil Basu, Emma Dures, LIFT study team

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Fatigue is a challenging feature of all inflammatory rheumatic diseases. LIFT (Lessening the Impact of Fatigue in inflammatory rheumatic diseases: a randomized Trial) included remotely delivered personalized exercise programme (PEP) or cognitive-behavioural approach (CBA) interventions. The aim of this nested qualitative evaluation was to understand rheumatology health professionals' (therapists') perspectives of delivering the interventions in the LIFT trial.

METHODS: A subgroup of therapists who had delivered the personalized exercise programme (PEP) and cognitive-behavioural approach (CBA) interventions took part in semi-structured telephone interviews.

RESULTS: Seventeen therapists (13 women and 4 men) who delivered PEP ( n  = 8) or CBA ( n  = 9) interventions participated. Five themes were identified. In 'The benefits of informative, structured training', therapists described how they were able to practice their skills, and the convenience of having the LIFT manual for reference. When 'Getting into the swing of it', supporting patients gave therapists the confidence to tailor the content of the manual to each patient. Clinical supervision supported therapists to gain feedback and request assistance when required. In 'Delivering the intervention', therapists reported that patients valued the opportunity to talk about their fatigue and challenge their beliefs. In 'Challenges in delivering the LIFT intervention', therapists struggled to work in partnership with patients who lacked motivation or stopped engaging. Finally, in 'LIFT developing clinical skills', therapists gained confidence and professional satisfaction, seeing patients' fatigue improve over time.

CONCLUSION: The findings support the provision of training for rheumatology health professionals to remotely deliver fatigue-management interventions. Insights from these trials can be used to better improve clinical practice and service provision.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberrkac083
Number of pages8
JournalRheumatology advances in practice
Issue number3
Early online date17 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2022


  • fatigue
  • qualitative
  • exercise
  • cognitive-behavioural approaches
  • rheumatic diseases


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