Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Lead users’ ideas on core features to support physical activity in rheumatoid arthritis: a first step in the development of an internet service using participatory design

Åsa Revenäs1*, Christina H Opava1 and Pernilla Åsenlöf2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Alfred Nobels Allé 23, 23100, Huddinge 141 83, Sweden

2 Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, BMC, Box 593, Uppsala 751 24, Sweden

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2014, 14:21  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-14-21

Published: 22 March 2014



Despite the growing evidence of the benefits of physical activity (PA) in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the majority is not physically active enough. An innovative strategy is to engage lead users in the development of PA interventions provided over the internet. The aim was to explore lead users’ ideas and prioritization of core features in a future internet service targeting adoption and maintenance of healthy PA in people with RA.


Six focus group interviews were performed with a purposively selected sample of 26 individuals with RA. Data were analyzed with qualitative content analysis and quantification of participants’ prioritization of most important content.


Six categories were identified as core features for a future internet service: up-to-date and evidence-based information and instructions, self-regulation tools, social interaction, personalized set-up, attractive design and content, and access to the internet service. The categories represented four themes, or core aspects, important to consider in the design of the future service: (1) content, (2) customized options, (3) user interface and (4) access and implementation.


This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study involving people with RA in the development of an internet service to support the adoption and maintenance of PA.

Participants helped identifying core features and aspects important to consider and further explore during the next phase of development. We hypothesize that involvement of lead users will make transfer from theory to service more adequate and user-friendly and therefore will be an effective mean to facilitate PA behavior change.

Physical activity; Rheumatoid arthritis; Focus group; Internet service