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The Gerontologist 44:217-228 (2004)
© 2004 The Gerontological Society of America

Impact of the Fit and Strong Intervention on Older Adults With Osteoarthritis

Susan L. Hughes, DSW1,, Rachel B. Seymour, MS1, Richard Campbell, PhD1, Naomi Pollak, MS, PT1, Gail Huber, MHPE, PT2 and Leena Sharma, MD3

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Susan L. Hughes, DSW, Health Research and Policy Centers, University of Illinois at Chicago, 850 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60607. E-mail: shughes{at}

Purpose: This study assessed the impact of a low cost, multicomponent physical activity intervention for older adults with lower extremity osteoarthritis. Design and Methods: A randomized controlled trial compared the effects of a facility-based multiple-component training program followed by home-based adherence (n = 80) to a wait list control group (n = 70). Assessments were conducted at baseline and at 2 and 6 months following randomization. The training program consisted of range of motion, resistance training, aerobic walking, and education–group problem solving regarding self-efficacy for exercise and exercise adherence. All training group participants developed individualized plans for posttraining adherence. Results: Relative to the persons in the control group, individuals who participated in the exercise program experienced a statistically significant improvement in exercise efficacy, a 48.5% increase in exercise adherence, and a 13.3% increase in 6-min distance walk that were accompanied by significant decreases in lower extremity stiffness at 2 and 6 months. Program participants also experienced a significant decrease in lower extremity pain and a borderline significant improvement in efficacy to adhere to exercise over time at 6 months (p =.052). In contrast, persons in the control group deteriorated over time on the efficacy and adherence measures and showed no change on the other measures. No adverse health effects were encountered. Implications: These benefits indicate that this low-cost intervention may hold great promise as one of a growing number of public health intervention strategies for older adults in the United States with osteoarthritis.

Key Words: Arthritis • Elderly • Clinical trial • Outcomes

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Copyright © 2004 by The Gerontological Society of America.