Background: There is a need to improve the effectiveness of strategies to help cardiac rehabilitation patients achieve recommended levels of physical activity; the use of pedometers requires further research. We aimed to examine the feasibility of a randomised controlled trial, of an intervention using pedometer step-count goals, to promote physical activity for cardiac rehabilitation patients.
Methods: We invited patients who completed a supervised cardiac rehabilitation programme to participate in this community-based study. Consenting participants wore a Yamax CW-701 pedometer for one week, blinded to stepcount readings, before being randomly allocated to groups. Intervention groups were told their step-counts; working with a clinical facilitator (nurse or physiotherapist) individually, they set daily step-count goals and reviewed these weekly. Baseline step-counts were hidden from controls, who were not given pedometers but received ongoing weekly facilitator support. After six weeks both groups wore ‘blinded’ pedometers for outcome assessment and participated in semi-structured interviews which explored their experiences of the study. Outcomes included rates of uptake, adherence and completion of measures, including step-counts, quality of life (EQ-5D) and stage of behaviour change.
Results: Four programme groups were recruited; two received the intervention. Of 68 invitees, 45 participated (66%) (19 intervention; 26 control). Forty-two (93%) completed the outcomes. Baseline characteristics were comparable between groups. Mean steps/day increased more for intervention participants (2,742; 95%CI 1,169 to 4,315) than controls (-42; 95%CI -1,102 to 1,017) (p=0.004). The intervention and on-going clinical contact were welcomed; participants considered that step-counts, compared to time-related targets, encouraged them to become more active.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that an intervention using individually tailored step-count goals may help increase and sustain physical activity following a cardiac rehabilitation programme. A definitive randomised controlled trial using blinded outcome measurements is feasible and of potential value in determining how best to translate physical activity advice into practice.