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251. Randomised controlled trial of a pedometer-based telephone intervention

Research Article
Furber, Susan et al
August 2010

Commentary by Rona Macniven, Cluster for Physical Activity and Health (CPAH), University of Sydney

This paper reports on a novel pedometer-based telephone intervention to increase physical activity in cardiac patients who do not participate in cardiac rehabilitation, determining the program as a successful alternative to increase and maintain physical activity.

The program involved 215 patients and took place in New South Wales in an area south of Sydney, as part of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Healthy Heart Project. The 6-week intervention comprised self-monitoring of physical activity using a pedometer and step calendar; and behavioural counselling and goal setting sessions. Information on physical activity, measured through the Active Australia Questionnaire, psychosocial factors and demographics were obtained through a telephone survey at the start of the program, after 6 weeks and again at 6 months. Patients were randomly allocated to either the intervention group, or a control group who received two physical activity information brochures sent in the mail upon their completion of the baseline questionnaire.

After 6 weeks of either program, success was evident as improvements in the intervention group were significantly greater than the control group for total physical activity time (p = 0.027), total physical activity sessions (p = 0.003), walking time (p = 0.013) and walking sessions (p = 0.002). Encouragingly, these changes remained significant at 6-month follow-up.

Uptake of cardiac rehabilitation programs among eligible patients is troublingly low, with attendance rates at only around 25%. This alternative type of intervention demonstrates promise as an effective and realistic means of increasing and sustaining physical activity in this population group, leading to improved health outcomes through reducing the risk of future heart disease.