n South African Journal of Physiotherapy - Factors associated with physical function capacity in an urban cohort of people living with the human immunodeficiency virus in South Africa

Volume 75 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0379-6175
  • E-ISSN: 2410-8219



Background: Effective disease management for people living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLWH) includes the encouragement of physical activity. Physical function capacity in PLWH may be influenced by a variety of factors.

Objectives: This study describes the physical function capacity as assessed with the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) of an urban cohort of PLWH and determined whether a history of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB), anthropometric measures, age and gender predicted distance walked. Method: Secondary data collected from 84 PLWH on antiretroviral therapy were analysed. Information included 6MWT distance, anthropometric measurements and demographic profiles. Descriptive and inferential statistics were undertaken on the data. A regression analysis determined predictive factors for 6MWT distance achieved. Significance was set at a p-value of ≤ 0.05.

Results: The study consisted of 66 (78.6%) women and 18 (21.4%) men with a mean age of 39.1 (± 9.2) years. The 6MWT distance of the cohort was 544.3 (± 64.4) m with men walking further (602.8 [± 58.6] m) than women (528.3 [± 56.4] m); however, women experienced greater effort. The majority of the sample did not report a history of PTB (n = 67; 79.8%). Age, gender and anthropometric measures were associated with 6MWT distance, but of low to moderate strength. The regression equation generated included age and gender. This model was statistically significant (p < 0.00) and accounted for 34% of the total variance observed.

Conclusion: Age and gender were predictive factors of physical function capacity and women experienced greater effort.

Clinical implications: This study provides information on the physical function capacity of PLWH and a suggested 6MWT reference equation for PLWH in South Africa.

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