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Linking physical activity to personal values: feasibility and acceptability randomized pilot of a behavioral intervention for older adults with osteoarthritis pain

Pilot Feasibility Stud. 2022 Aug 1;8(1):164. doi: 10.1186/s40814-022-01121-0.


BACKGROUND: Osteoarthritis (OA) pain is common and leads to functional impairment for many older adults. Physical activity can improve OA outcomes for older adults, but few are appropriately active. Behavioral interventions can reduce physical activity barriers. We developed and tested a brief, novel behavioral intervention (i.e., Engage-PA) for older adults combining values to enhance motivation and strategic activity pacing to improve arthritis-related pain and functioning and increase physical activity.

METHODS: A randomized feasibility and acceptability pilot trial compared Engage-PA to treatment-as-usual plus fitness tracker (TAU+) in N = 40 adults age 65+ with OA pain in the knee or hip. Engage-PA involved two 60-min telephone sessions. All participants wore a fitness tracker to collect daily steps throughout the study and completed baseline and post-treatment assessments of secondary outcomes (arthritis-related pain and physical functioning, physical activity, psychological distress, psychological flexibility, and valued living). The impact of COVID-19 on general well-being and physical activity was also assessed. Descriptive statistics were conducted for feasibility and acceptability outcomes. Indicators of improvement in secondary outcomes were examined via change scores from baseline to post-treatment and performing independent samples t-tests to assess for between-group differences.

RESULTS: Feasibility was high; 100% accrual, low (5%) attrition, and 100% completion of study sessions. Acceptability was high, with 89% finding the intervention “mostly” or “very” helpful. Engage-PA participants demonstrated improvements in arthritis pain severity (Mdiff = 1.68, p = 0.044, 95% CI [- 0.26, 3.62]) and self-reported activity (Mdiff = 0.875, p = 0.038, 95% CI [- 1.85, 0.98]) from baseline to post-treatment as compared to TAU+. Due to pandemic-related challenges, there was a high level of missing data (43%) for daily steps, but available data showed no significant change in steps over time or between the groups. COVID-19 added an additional burden to participants, such that 50% were exercising less, 68% were more sedentary, and 72% lost access to spaces and social support to be active.

CONCLUSIONS: Engage-PA is a promising brief, novel behavioral intervention with the potential to support older adults in improving arthritis-related pain and functioning and increasing physical activity. The feasibility and acceptability of Engage-PA are particularly notable as most participants reported COVID-19 added more barriers to physical activity.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NCT04490395 . Registered on July 29, 2020.

PMID:35915512 | DOI:10.1186/s40814-022-01121-0

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