By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor
It sounds like a no-brainer: physical activity can have great health benefits for people who are chronically ill. But which interventions promote physical activity in this population most effectively? Many studies evaluating such interventions have been conducted; but “without the benefit of a statistical analysis across studies it can be difficult to detect patterns and interpret results,” say the authors of this month’s CE feature, Todd M. Rupper and Vicki S. Conn.
In 2008 Conn and colleagues did just that, performing a meta-analysis that summarized the findings of 163 reports on 213 independent tests of interventions used to promote physical activity among more than 22,000 adults with various chronic illnesses. Now, in this article, Rupper and Conn discuss the implications of the findings from that meta-analysis, describe the strategies and practices most commonly used, and identify which ones have proven most effective. Among the take-aways:
The 2008 meta-analysis showed interventions to be most effective in promoting physical activity among chronically ill adults when they
• targeted physical activity exclusively.
• used behavioral (as opposed to cognitive) strategies.
• encouraged self-monitoring.
The article also categorizes intervention attributes or practices according to the strength of the evidence, and it addresses which intervention components have been shown to have either no effects or possibly negative ones.
Although changing health behaviors in chronically ill patients is “a very complex undertaking,” say the authors, the findings show that it’s not impossible. To learn more, read the article; and as always, we invite you to share your experiences with us in the comments.