Health Professionals E-News

Issue 1
February 2016

In this issue

  • Welcome to the E-News!
  • Feature: Arthritis Queensland's 17th Annual Health Professionals Seminar 
    • 2016 Seminar News
    • Speaker Profile: Emeritus Professor Gina Geffen, AM
  • Introducing the New AQ Health Education Team
  • Article: Sedentary Behaviours and Arthritis

Welcome to the Health Professionals E-News!

Welcome to the first edition of our new Health Professionals E-News. This bi-monthly newsletter is designed to keep health professionals up-to-date with the latest from the world of arthritis.

In this issue we feature our 17th Annual Health Professionals Seminar, introduce AQ's new Health Education Team and discuss the growing public health issue of sedentary behaviour and its impacts on those with arthritis.

If you would like any further information on these articles, or would like to contribute to future editions of our E-News, please contact us on 1800 011 041 or  

Arthritis Queensland's 17th Annual Health Professionals Seminar

Seminar News

Friday 18th March 2016
8am - 4pm
Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital
Education Centre        
Early bird tickets are selling fast for the17th instalment of our Annual Health Professionals Seminar. This year's seminar promises to be a great event and offers attendees the opportunity to hear from some of Queensland's leading rheumatologists, health professionals and academics, as well the chance to network with other health professionals from a variety of clinical backgrounds.

Based on feedback from previous years, the 2016 programme has been designed specifically to have a more direct link to practice. Speakers will be presenting on a broad range of topics to provide attendees with up-to-date and clinically relevant information on the management of arthritic conditions. 
This year's speakers include:

  • Dr. Helen Benham – Rheumatologist
  • Professor Matthew Brown – Rheumatologist
  • Dr. Philip Robinson – Rheumatologist
  • Dr. Ben Whitehead – Paediatric Rheumatologist
  • Dr. Heather Wisbey – Rheumatologist
  • Linda Bradbury – Nurse Practitioner – President, Rheumatology Health Professionals Association
  • Greg Dower – Podiatrist – Director, My FootDr Podiatry Centers
  • Professor Gina Geffen AM – Clinical Neuropsychologist and Clinical Psychologist – Professor Emeritus, University of Queensland                                                                                                                                                                         

Early bird registrations close Friday 19th Feb. Get in quick to book your spot at this year's seminar!

Speaker Profile

Professor Emeritus Gina Geffen AM
Clinical Neuropsychologist and Clinical Psychologist.

We are excited to have Professor Gina Geffen for the first time at the Health Professionals Seminar. Professor Geffen will be speaking on "Maladaptive neuroplasticity reversal by multidisciplinary intervention - a case study on chronic regional pain syndrome". Her description of the real-life case study of a patient at the Brisbane Pain Rehabilitation Service will be followed by a question and answer period. This session follows on from a presentation on fibromyalgia by rheumatologist Dr. Heather Wisbey, and will surely benefit all practitioners working with clients with chronic pain.

About Gina

Gina joined the University of Queensland's School of Psychology as Professor in 1991 and was appointed Director of the Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratory until her retirement in 2007. She trained at Oxford and Monash Universities and became Professor of Neuropsychology at Flinders University.

She is now in private practice as Psychology Director of the Brisbane Pain Rehabilitation Service where she supervises clinical externships. She is the recipient of numerous national and international awards including those of the International Neuropsychological Society, Order of Australia, Fellowships of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, the Australian Psychological Society, and the Australian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment. She has held office in many national organisations including the Psychology Board of Queensland and of Australia.

Further information on Professor Geffen's research is available at  

Introducing the New AQ Health Education Team

Audra McHugh – Health Educator

Originally from Canada, Audra arrived in Brisbane in 2006 to pursue her Master's in Public Health at the University of Queensland after completing her honors in Psychology. Her professional career incudes managing community mental health programs, coordinating drug and alcohol services, providing oversight of workshop delivery to disadvantaged young people and families across Australia, conducting leadership seminars in high schools, and working in policy and advocacy for children in out-of-home care. In addition to her role at Arthritis Queensland, Audra is also a qualified fitness instructor and personal trainer. 

James Bayliss - Health Promotions Officer

James Bayliss holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Public Health. His post-graduate research examined the use of health promotion strategies in mitigating the impacts of social distress on persons with chronic illness. He is currently studying a Master's degree in Business, focusing his studies on the role of the not-for-profit sector in addressing health inequities. James worked within general practice clinics for five years prior to coming to Arthritis Queensland and brings with him experience working with both health professionals and health care consumers.

Sedentary Behaviour and Arthritis

By James Bayliss            

The importance of physical activity (PA) for the management of arthritis is well established. Despite this, sedentary behaviours (SB) are growing increasingly prevalent amongst those with arthritic conditions, to the detriment of cardio-metabolic health.

Facilitated by the convenience of non-active forms of transport and the prevalence of behaviours involving prolonged sitting, SB’s are now an endemic feature throughout contemporary society1.

Due to the activity-inhibiting nature of many forms of arthritis, persons with an arthritic condition tend to engage in SB at a higher rate than the general population2-4. This trend is common across both mechanical and inflammatory forms of arthritis, particularly in their advanced stages. Studies have shown that persons with rheumatoid arthritis spend up to 90% of their day (~14 hours) in a sedentary state, a rate over one and a half times that of the general population3. Osteoarthritis (OA), particularly OA of the knee and lower limbs, is also associated with an increased susceptibility to SB, primarily due to symptom-induced decreases to exercise self-efficacy 2,4.  

The health risks associated with SB are independent to the protective factors of PA1.

Functional decline and conditions including obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are all adversely associated with SB1-6. Most important to note is that these health risks are independent to the beneficial contributions of PA1,5. Initial research into the arthritis-specific impacts of SB suggest that the presence of an arthritic condition can increase a person’s vulnerability to these health risks and exacerbate their impact2,3,6. The causative nature of this association is not completely understood, however the increased risk of cardio-metabolic disease, all-cause mortality, and low exercise self-efficacy intrinsic to many arthritic conditions is often sighted in this regard 2-8.

Peak health bodies in Australia and around the world have responded to the growing public health risk associated with SB. A recent review of Australia’s Physical Activity Guidelines resulted in the development of Australia’s National Guidelines for Sedentary Behaviour9. However, despite this population level action, there is still a great opportunity for health practitioners, particularly those practicing at a primary care level, to address the burden of SB.

Health Professionals may consider moving beyond strategies aimed solely at increasing PA levels to approaches which both uphold PA guidelines and interrupt instances of SB1,5,9.

As the health risks associated with SB are independent to the protective factors of PA1, any PA intervention should both promote the importance of exercise as well as focus on disrupting instances of SB5,9. Studies have identified that SB occurs most regularly in work place (prolonged occupational sitting) home (prolonged sitting/lying down during leisure time) and travel (sitting whilst traveling) settings1. Health professionals could potentially target these settings for midstream (behaviour change) level intervention. Midstream level approaches allow for health professionals to work with clients on identifying factors which influence their engagement in/ avoidance of PA or SB10. Simple changes such as moving printers away from desks and identifying more active forms of travel and leisure time are examples of midstream interventions. Education on the risks associated with SB and the benefits of PA should also form part of this process11.

With predicted increases in both the burden of SB and the prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions (including arthritis)12, it is important that both health professionals and persons with arthritis are aware of the health risks associated with SB. Focusing interventions on both disrupting instances of SB and promoting PA guidelines, will help assist in mitigating this growing public health issue.


1 – Gilson, N., Burton, N., Van Uffelen,J., & Brown, W. (2011). Occupational sitting time: employee’ perceptions of health risks and intervention strategies. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 22(1), 38 – 43.

2 – Lee, J., Chang, R., Ehrlich-Jones, L., Kwoh, K., Nevitt,M., Semanik, P., Sharma, L., Sohn, M., Song, J., & Dunlop, D. (2015). Sedentary behaviour and physical function: objective evidence from the osteoarthritis initiative. Arthritis Care and Research, 67(3), 366 – 373. doi: 10.1002/acr.22432

3 - Huffman, K., Peiper, C., Hall, K., St Clair, E., & Kraus, W. (2014). Self-efficacy for exercise, more than disease-related factors, is associated with objectively assessed exercise time and sedentary behaviour in rheumatoid arthritis. Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, 44(2), 106-110. doi: 10.3109/03009742.2014.931456

4 – Song, J., Lindquist, L., Chang, R., Semanik,P., Ehrlich-Jones, L., Lee, J., Sohn, M., & Dunlop, D. (2015). Sedentary behaviour as a risk factor for physical frailty independent of moderate activity: results from the osteoarthritis initiative. American Journal of Public Health, 105 (7), 1439 – 1445. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2014.07.007

5 –  Healy, G., Lawler, S., Thorp, A., Neuhaus, M., Robson, E., Owen, N., & Dunstan, D. Reducing Prolonged Sitting in the Workplace, an Evidence Review: Full Report. Accessed via Victoria Health from,

6 - Yu, C., Rouse, P., Veldhuijzen Van Zanten, J., Ntoumanis, N., Kitas, G., Duda, J., & Setsios, G. (2015) Subjective and objectives levels of physical activity and their association with cardiorespiratory fitness in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 17(59), 3-7. doi: 10.1186/s13075-015-0584-7

7 - Thomsen, T., Beyer, N., Aadahl, M., Hetland, M., Loppenthin, K., Midtgaard, J, J., & Esbensen, B. (2015). Sedentary behaviour in patients with rheumatiod arthritis: a qualitative study. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being, 10 (28578). doi: 10.3420/qhwv.10.28578.

8 - Tierney, M., Fraser, A., Purtill, H., & Kennedy, N. (2015). Profile of energy expendature in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Disability and Health Journal, 8 (2015), 514 - 520.

9- Australian Department of Health (2014). Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. Retrieved from

10- Fleming,M., & Parker, E. (2009).Introduction to Public Health. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone, P. 119-130. 

11- Keleher,H., & Murphy, B. (2006). Understanding Health: A Determinants Approach. Melbourne: Oxford. P. 160-170.

12- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2014). Australia's Health 2014.