A telephone-only motivational intervention to increase physical activity in rural adults: a randomized controlled trial

Jill A Bennett, Heather M Young, Lillian M Nail, Kerri Winters-Stone, Ginger Hanson
Nursing Research 2008, 57 (1): 24-32

BACKGROUND: Both urban and rural adults are likely to be inactive, but rural adults have less access to exercise classes or facilities to increase physical activity.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate whether a telephone-only motivational interviewing (MI) intervention would increase daily physical activity of rural adults.

METHODS: This randomized controlled trial enrolled 86 physically inactive adults living in rural communities (mean age = 58 years, range = 30-81 years) who stated that they were ready to increase physical activity during the next 6 months. Participants were assigned randomly to MI intervention (n = 43) or control (n = 43) groups. The MI group participants received a pedometer and monthly MI telephone calls over 6 months from a counselor. Control group participants received an equal number of telephone calls without MI content. Physical activity was measured by self-report using the Community Healthy Activities Model Program For Seniors Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Adults. Data were collected by mailed surveys and analyzed using analysis of variance.

RESULTS: Seventy-two participants completed the study (35 in the intervention group and 37 in the control group). The telephone-only MI intervention increased self-efficacy for exercise (p = .019) but did not increase levels of physical activity (p = .572) compared with controls.

DISCUSSION: The intervention increased self-efficacy for exercise but did not increase physical activity, possibly due to seasonal effects, the control condition, or the length of the MI intervention. Even so, future studies are warranted because telephone-only MI has potential as a practical, relatively inexpensive method to provide health counseling to rural adults in a broad geographic area. This study produced an effect size on physical activity that will be useful to guide future studies.


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