Barriers related to body function, personal beliefs or attitudes, and environmental factors influenced whether people with hemophilia (PWH) engaged in physical activity.

In a qualitative study published in the journal Haemophilia, a total of 16 patients with severe hemophilia A participated in 4 focus groups to determine factors that facilitated or acted as barriers against physical activity.

The cohort had a mean age of 39.5 (range, 18-59). The mean number of bleeding episodes in the past year was 1.3 (range, 0-5) and 1 patient reported inhibitors. The most common joints with arthropathy or hemophilia-related damage was the ankles, followed by the elbows, knees, shoulders, and hips.

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The majority of patients in this study reported their current health status as good, followed by very good, bad, and excellent. They also reported they exercised or played sports 2 or 3 days per week.

The feedback provided by the participants encompassed 3 themes: body function, personal factors, and environmental factors.

The body function factors that facilitated physical activity included access to prophylaxis treatment that reduced the risk of bleeding. Of the environmental factors, social interaction, low cost, guidance on activities, availability of sport classes or facilities, and in-house exercise facilitated physical activity. Personal factors that also promoted physical activity included personal goals, competition, enjoyment of the activity, fitness and health motivation, and support.

Barriers related to body function that prevented physical activity included hurtful joints, hemophilic arthropathy, and mobility issues. Environmental barriers included negative social influences, coordination of prophylaxis treatment, and restrictions. PWH reported personal factors, such as lack of motivation, fear of injury, dislike/disinterest, tiredness, lack of time, and lack of guidance as barriers.

“The results of this study may be used to assist caregivers and health professionals, inform programs, interventions, and policies to promote physical activity and health in severe PWH,” the authors concluded in their report.

Cotino C, Pérez-Alenda S, Cruz-Montecinos C, et al. Barriers and facilitators of physical activity in adults with severe haemophilia: a qualitative study. Haemophilia. Published online July 19, 2023. doi: 10.1111/hae.14828