Randomized controlled trial of a teleconference fatigue management plus physical activity intervention in adults with multiple sclerosis: rationale and research protocol

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Plow, Matthew
Finlayson, Marcia
Moti, Robert W.
Bethoux, Francois
multiple sclerosis , MS , telemedicine , telehealth , fatigue , motor activity
BACKGROUND: Chronic fatigue and inactivity are prevalent problems among individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) and may independently or interactively have detrimental effects on quality of life and ability to participate in life roles. However, no studies to date have systematically evaluated the benefits of an intervention for both managing fatigue and promoting physical activity in individuals with MS. This study involves a randomized controlled trial to examine the effectiveness of a telehealth intervention that supports individuals with MS in managing fatigue and increasing physical activity levels. METHODS/DESIGN: A randomly-allocated, three-parallel group, time-series design with a social support program serving as the control group will be used to accomplish the purpose of the study. Our goal is to recruit 189 ambulatory individuals with MS who will be randomized into one of three telehealth interventions: (1) a contact-control social support intervention, (2) a physical activity-only intervention, and (3) a physical activity plus fatigue management intervention. All interventions will last 12 weeks and will be delivered entirely over the phone. Our hypothesis is that, in comparison to the contact-control condition, both the physical activity-only intervention and the physical activity plus fatigue management intervention will yield significant increases in physical activity levels as well as improve fatigue and health and function, with the physical activity plus fatigue management intervention yielding significantly larger improvements. To test this hypothesis, outcome measures will be administered at Weeks 1, 12, and 24. Primary outcomes will be the Fatigue Impact Scale, the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (GLTEQ), and Actigraph accelerometers. Secondary outcomes will include the SF-12 Survey, Mental Health Inventory, Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale, the Community Participation Indicator, and psychosocial constructs (e.g., self-efficacy). DISCUSSION: The proposed study is novel, in that it represents a multi-disciplinary effort to merge two promising lines of research on MS: fatigue management and physical activity promotion. Collectively, the proposed study will be the largest randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of a lifestyle physical activity intervention in people with MS.
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