Impact Of Intercurrent Illness On Functional Outcomes In A Clinical Trial To Improve Elder Fitness: 1748 12:15 PM - 12:30 PM : Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

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E-38: Free Communication/Slide – Physical Activity and Special Populations: FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2005 11: 15 AM - 12: 30 PM ROOM: Jackson C

Impact Of Intercurrent Illness On Functional Outcomes In A Clinical Trial To Improve Elder Fitness

1748 12:15 PM - 12:30 PM

Morey, Miriam C.1; Sloane, Richard2; Ekelund, Carola C.3; Pearson, Megan P.3; Crowley, Gail M.1; Peterson, Matthew J.1; Pieper, Carl F.2; McConnell, Eleanor1; Bosworth, Hayden B.1; Chapman, Jennifer4

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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 37(5):p S338, May 2005.
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Clinical interventions aimed at an aging population of diverse functional status are likely to encounter intercurrent illness among study participants throughout the study period. The impact of intercurrent illness is rarely discussed in the literature pertaining to exercise interventions, other then a brief mention of the paucity of adverse events.


This study examined the impact of intercurrent illness on functional outcomes among a group of older, veterans participating in a 3-armed 6-month clinical trial of physical activity counseling.


We assessed falls, injuries and changes in health status among 175 veterans (mean age 78.3, 99% male, 5.2 mean number of diseases) receiving 3 amounts of physical activity counseling (high intensity, attention control health counseling, and usual care). Data were collected during a telephone survey administered by interviewers blinded to treatment group at 3 and 6 months.


Participants self-reported 133 intervening health events; of these, 11% required a hospitalization, 25% required a doctor's visit, and 29 falls or injuries did not require intervention. The distribution of events was not different between groups (p=0.83) and most events were not attributable to the intervention. While study participants randomized to the high intensity counseling arm reported significant increases in physical activity frequency, these positive changes were not accompanied by similar changes in physical function. No significant group*time effects for baseline, 3-month and 6-month follow-up were noted for SF-36 Physical Function subscale, Nagi and Rosow-Breslau Study of Disability subscales, gait speed, chair stands, 8 Ft. Up and Go test, and 6-minute walk time. For each of these tests across all intervention groups, intercurrent illness was the strongest predictor of change (p=0.0002, p=0.0053, p=0.0004, p=0.0025, p=0032, p=0.0009, and p=0.077 respectively).


In a population with a high burden of chronic disease, intercurrent illness is fairly frequent and may confound the results of health promoting strategies. Intercurrent illness should be assessed and evaluated in light of its potential to negatively affect functional trajectories.

©2005The American College of Sports Medicine