Important considerations for feasibility studies in physical activity research involving persons with multiple sclerosis: a scoping systematic review and case study
There is increasing recognition that exercise is an efficacious strategy for managing many consequences of multiple sclerosis (MS), yet persons with MS are not engaging in sufficient exercise for accruing health benefits. Poor exercise uptake might be associated with the design of previous research. We conducted a randomised controlled trial (RCT) for examining the feasibility of a 4-month home-based, exercise-training program designed based on recent physical activity guidelines for MS and supplemented by behavioural strategies for compliance. Feasibility was assessed in the domains of process (e.g., recruitment), resource (e.g., monetary costs), management (e.g., personnel time requirements) and scientific outcomes (e.g., treatment effect). We recruited persons with mild-to-moderate MS who were randomised into an intervention or wait-list control condition. Intervention participants received a pedometer, elastic resistance bands, DVD, training manual, calendars, log-book, video coaching calls and newsletters. Participants in both conditions completed home-based assessments before and after the 4-month period. Ninety-nine persons with MS were assessed for eligibility, and 57 were randomised. Fifty-one persons completed the study (90%). Total costs of the study were US $5331.03. Personnel time to conduct the study totaled 263h. Participants in the intervention group complied fully with 71% of all exercise sessions. There was a moderate increase in self-reported exercise behaviour of the intervention participants as measured by the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (d≥0.5). The results support the feasibility and acceptability of a home-based exercise intervention based on physical activity guidelines and supplemented with behavioural strategies for adults with mild-to-moderate MS.