A pilot intervention to improve physical activity and psychological outcomes in patients at risk of developing chronic diseases (metabolic syndrome)

Olivia R. Velasquez, BA

Massachusetts General Hospital
A pilot intervention to improve physical activity and psychological outcomes in patients at risk of developing chronic diseases (metabolic syndrome)

Scientific Abstract

Background: Interventions focusing on positive psychological well-being and motivation have been shown to help individuals improve their health. Applying these techniques simultaneously in a community-based, positive psychology and physical activity intervention could be especially beneficial to individuals at an elevated risk for developing chronic diseases.

Methods: Individuals with low levels of physical activity and metabolic syndrome were recruited for participation in this proof-of-concept study. For 8 weeks, participants attended weekly sessions focused on increasing positive emotions, setting physical activity goals, and problem-solving barriers. Sessions were rated for their ease and utility using 0-10 Likert scales. Participants were given Fitbits to track their activity throughout the intervention. Psychosocial and behavioral questionnaires and biometrics were measured pre- and post-intervention. T-tests and effect sizes (d) were calculated.

Results: Eight female, White participants enrolled and seven completed the study. The mean rating for session ease was 7.0 (±0.5)/10 and mean utility rating was 8.1 (±1.0)/10, meeting or surpassing a priori hypotheses. Positive affect (d=.88) and dispositional optimism (d=.53) scores increased, and depression scores (d=.62) improved significantly following the intervention. Physical activity increased by 2066 steps/day (d=.41) on average. Average number of vegetables eaten per day increased by 0.4 servings (d=.53), and there were significantly reduced scores on pre-post physical activity barriers (e.g., skill d=1.06, willpower d=.87).

Conclusions: This study provides support for the use of positive psychology and motivation- focused techniques to increase physical activity and vegetable consumption, as well as improve scores on mental health outcomes. The high feasibility and acceptability ratings of the sessions indicate that a next step randomized controlled trial in a larger sample is warranted.

Live Zoom Session – April 21st

research Areas

Authors

Olivia R. Velasquez, BA, Anne Thorndike, MD, MPH, Sonia Kim, BA, Elyse Park, PhD, MPH, Jeffery Huffman, MD, Rachel Millstein, PhD, MHS

Principal Investigator

Rachel Millstein, PhD, MHS

Affiliated Website