Improving physical activity adherence in midlife: MASTERY proof-of-concept trial

Alba Carrillo, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital
Improving physical activity adherence in midlife: MASTERY proof-of-concept trial

Scientific Abstract

Background: Midlife (age 45-64) is a critical time in the prevention of heart disease and other chronic medical conditions. Despite the benefits of physical activity (PA) for cardiac health, many midlife adults struggle to be physically active, in the context of low psychological wellbeing and multiple concurrent stressors. Positive psychology (PP) interventions (activities that promote wellbeing) and Motivational Interviewing (MI; a counselling style that addresses the ambivalence of behavior change), are associated with psychological well-being and adherence to health behaviors.

Methods: We developed a 12-week, phone- and text message-delivered, PP-MI midlife-targeted program to promote psychological wellbeing and PA in midlife adults with low physical activity. In the first 6 weeks, participants complete a PP exercise and work towards a PA goal through weekly phone calls with a study trainer, who reviews last week’s PP and PA goals, assigns a new PP exercise, and assists with a new PA goal. In the following 6 weeks, participants complete weekly text messages and check-in calls to review their goals of the previous week and set up new weekly goals.

In this single-arm, proof-of-concept trial, we will examine the intervention’s feasibility (rates of session completion), acceptability (participant ratings of weekly session ease and utility), and preliminary efficacy (physical activity, psychological, and functional outcomes).

Results: We have enrolled 12 participants, who currently are completing intervention and follow-up procedures; we anticipate that data collection will be complete in March 2021. We hypothesize that the intervention will be feasible, well-accepted, and associated with medium- sized improvements in physical activity and psychological outcomes.

Conclusions: This program may represent a promising approach in this age group to increase their wellbeing levels and engagement in PA. Larger, longer, and well-controlled studies will then be carried out to better assess the impact of this intervention.

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research Areas


Alba Carrillo, PhD, Christopher M. Celano, MD, Lauren E. Harnedy, BA, Christina N. Massey, PhD, Wei-Jean Chung, PhD, Emily H. Feig, PhD, Jeff C. Huffman, MD

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