Background: Physical functioning can be assessed by different approaches that are characterized by increasing levels of individual appraisal. There is insufficient insight into which approach is the most informative in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) compared with control subjects.
Objective: The objective of this study was to compare patients with AS and control subjects regarding 3 approaches of functioning: experienced ability to perform activities (Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index [BASFI]), self-reported amount of physical activity (PA) (Baecke questionnaire), and the objectively measured amount of PA (triaxial accelerometer).
Methods: This case-control study included 24 AS patients and 24 control subjects (matched for age, gender, and body mass index). Subjects completed the BASFI and Baecke questionnaire and wore a triaxial accelerometer. Subjects also completed other self-reported measures on disease activity (Bath AS Disease Activity Index), fatigue (Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory), and overall health (EuroQol visual analog scale).
Results: Both groups included 14 men (58%), and the mean age was 48 years. Patients scored significantly worse on the BASFI (3.9 vs 0.2) than their healthy peers, whereas PA assessed by Baecke and the accelerometer did not differ between groups. Correlations between approaches of physical functioning were low to moderate. Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index was associated with disease activity (r = 0.49) and physical fatigue (0.73) and Baecke with physical and activity related fatigue (r = 0.54 and r = 0.54), but total PA assessed by accelerometer was not associated with any of these experience-based health outcomes.
Conclusions: Different approaches of the concept physical functioning in patients with AS provide different information. Compared with matched control subjects, patients with AS report more difficulties but report and objectively perform the same amount of PA.