Physical ACtivity facilitation for Elders (PACE): Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

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Background: As people live longer, their risk of disability increases. Disability affects quality of life and increases health and social care costs. Preventing or delaying disability is therefore an important objective, and identifying an effective intervention could improve the lives of many older people. Observational and interventional evidence suggests that physical activity may reduce the risk of age-related disability, as assessed by physical performance measures. However it is unclear what approach is the most cost-effective intervention in changing long-term physical activity behaviour in older adults. A new theory-driven behavioural intervention has been developed, with the aim of increasing physical activity in the everyday lives of older adults at risk of disability. This pilot study tests the feasibility and acceptability of delivering this intervention to older adults.
A randomised controlled trial (RCT) design will be used in the pilot study. Sixty patients aged 65 years and older will be recruited from primary care practices. Patients will be eligible to participate if they are inactive, not disabled at baseline, are at risk of developing disability in the future (Short Physical Performance Battery score <10/12), and have no contraindications to physical activity. Following baseline measures, participants will be randomised in a 2:1 ratio to the intervention or to a control arm and all participants will be followed-up after 6 months. Those randomised to the intervention arm will receive sessions with a trained Physical Activity Facilitator, delivering an intervention based on self-determination theory. Control participants receive a booklet on healthy ageing. The main outcomes of interest are recruitment, adherence, retention and acceptability. Data will also be collected on: self-report and accelerometer-recorded physical activity; physical performance; depression; wellbeing; cognitive function; social support; quality of life, healthcare use, and attitudes to physical activity. A mixed-methods process evaluation will run alongside the RCT.
The intervention, if effective, has the potential to reduce disability and improve quality of life in older adults. Before proceeding to a full-scale trial a pilot trial is necessary to ensure intervention feasibility and acceptability, and that the intervention shows evidence of promise.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Issue number91
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Date of Acceptance: 17/02/2015

Structured keywords

  • DECIPHer


  • Physical activity
  • Physical performance
  • Ageing
  • Disability
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Complex intervention
  • Self-determination theory

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