Exercise for depression in elderly residents of care homes: a cluster-randomised controlled trial

Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, Warwick Medical School, The University of Warwick, Coventry, UK. Electronic address: .
The Lancet (Impact Factor: 45.22). 05/2013; 382(9886). DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60649-2
Source: PubMed


BACKGROUND: Depression is common and is associated with poor outcomes among elderly care-home residents. Exercise is a promising low-risk intervention for depression in this population. We tested the hypothesis that a moderate intensity exercise programme would reduce the burden of depressive symptoms in residents of care homes. METHODS: We did a cluster-randomised controlled trial in care homes in two regions in England; northeast London, and Coventry and Warwickshire. Residents aged 65 years or older were eligible for inclusion. A statistician independent of the study randomised each home (1 to 1·5 ratio, stratified by location, minimised by type of home provider [local authority, voluntary, private and care home, private and nursing home] and size of home [<32 or ≥32 residents]) into intervention and control groups. The intervention package included depression awareness training for care-home staff, 45 min physiotherapist-led group exercise sessions for residents (delivered twice weekly), and a whole home component designed to encourage more physical activity in daily life. The control consisted of only the depression awareness training. Researchers collecting follow-up data from individual participants and the participants themselves were inevitably aware of home randomisation because of the physiotherapists' activities within the home. A researcher masked to study allocation coded NHS routine data. The primary outcome was number of depressive symptoms on the geriatric depression scale-15 (GDS-15). Follow-up was for 12 months. This trial is registered with ISRCTN Register, number ISRCTN43769277. FINDINGS: Care homes were randomised between Dec 15, 2008, and April 9, 2010. At randomisation, 891 individuals in 78 care homes (35 intervention, 43 control) had provided baseline data. We delivered 3191 group exercise sessions attended on average by five study participants and five non-study residents. Of residents with a GDS-15 score, 374 of 765 (49%) were depressed at baseline; 484 of 765 (63%) provided 12 month follow-up scores. Overall the GDS-15 score was 0·13 (95% CI -0·33 to 0·60) points higher (worse) at 12 months for the intervention group compared with the control group. Among residents depressed at baseline, GDS-15 score was 0·22 (95% CI -0·52 to 0·95) points higher at 6 months in the intervention group than in the control group. In an end of study cross-sectional analysis, including 132 additional residents joining after randomisation, the odds of being depressed were 0·76 (95% CI 0·53 to 1·09) for the intervention group compared with the control group. INTERPRETATION: This moderately intense exercise programme did not reduce depressive symptoms in residents of care homes. In this frail population, alternative strategies to manage psychological symptoms are required. FUNDING: National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment.

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    • "The unstandardized b values of dressing and transfer indicate that a change from independent to dependent, or vice versa, in one of these activities might change the GDS-score with around one point. This could explain the inability of exercise interventions to reduce depressive symptoms in residential care facilities.38–41 Such interventions may have had insufficient effects on functional capacity, or an insufficient number of participants have managed to become independent in dressing or transfer. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined associations between depressive symptoms and functional capacity, overall dependency in personal activities of daily living (ADLs), and dependency in individual ADL tasks, respectively, in people with a high mean age, large range of functional capacity, and wide spectrum of dependency in ADLs. Cross-sectional data from three studies were used. A total of 392 individuals living in community and residential care facilities were included. Mean age was 86.2 years, 72% were women, 75% were dependent in ADLs, 42% had depression, and 39% had dementia. Depressive symptoms were assessed with the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15), functional capacity with the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), and ADLs with the Barthel ADL Index. Multiple linear regression analyses with comprehensive adjustments were performed between GDS-15 and BBS, GDS-15 and Barthel ADL Index, and GDS-15 and each individual ADL task, separately. GDS-15 score was associated with BBS score (unstandardized b =-0.03, P=0.008), but not with Barthel ADL Index score (unstandardized b =-0.07, P=0.068). No significant interaction effects of sex, dementia, or living conditions were found in these associations. Among individual ADL tasks, dependency in transfer (unstandardized b =-1.03, P=0.007) and dressing (unstandardized b =-0.70, P=0.035) were associated with depressive symptoms. Functional capacity seems to be independently associated with depressive symptoms in older people living in community and residential care facilities, whereas overall ADL performance may not be associated. Dependency in the individual ADL tasks of transfer and dressing appear to be independently associated with depressive symptoms and may be an important focus of future interdisciplinary multifactorial intervention studies.
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    • "The OPERA (‘Older People’s Exercise intervention in Residential and nursing Accommodation’) trial was a cluster randomised trial based in care homes, in which we set out to test the impact of a whole home intervention including a structured, progressive physical activity programme on the incidence and prevalence of depressive symptoms [7]. Although it was a large, adequately powered trial of a 12-month-long intervention, the OPERA trial found no detectable effect of the intervention on either the prevalence or incidence of depression [6,8]. There was also no observable effect on any of the predefined secondary outcomes. "
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    ABSTRACT: The 'Older People's Exercise intervention in Residential and nursing Accommodation' (OPERA) cluster randomised trial evaluated the impact of training for care home staff together with twice-weekly, physiotherapist-led exercise classes on depressive symptoms in care home residents, but found no effect. We report a process evaluation exploring potential explanations for the lack of effect. The OPERA trial included over 1,000 residents in 78 care homes in the UK. We used a mixed methods approach including quantitative data collected from all homes. In eight case study homes, we carried out repeated periods of observation and interviews with residents, care staff and managers. At the end of the intervention, we held focus groups with OPERA research staff. We reported our first findings before the trial outcome was known. Homes showed large variations in activity at baseline and throughout the trial. Overall attendance rate at the group exercise sessions was low (50%). We considered two issues that might explain the negative outcome: whether the intervention changed the culture of the homes, and whether the residents engaged with the intervention. We found low levels of staff training, few home champions for the intervention and a culture that prioritised protecting residents from harm over encouraging activity. The trial team delivered 3,191 exercise groups but only 36% of participants attended at least 1 group per week and depressed residents attended significantly fewer groups than those who were not depressed. Residents were very frail and therefore most groups only included seated exercises. The intervention did not change the culture of the homes and, in the case study homes, activity levels did not change outside the exercise groups. Residents did not engage in the exercise groups at a sufficient level, and this was particularly true for those with depressive symptoms at baseline. The physical and mental frailty of care home residents may make it impossible to deliver a sufficiently intense exercise intervention to impact on depressive symptoms.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · BMC Medicine

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