Objective: This study examined, in a group of older patients, (a) the effectiveness of an invitation to participate in a program providing individualized physical activity advice in a primary care setting and (b) the changes in self-reported physical activity and symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis (OA).
Methods: Healthy, sedentary community-dwelling men and women aged 60 years or more were invited to participate. Following random allocation, the intervention group received individualized physical activity advice at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 months followup.
Results: Of the 299 people who satisfied the study's inclusion criteria, a subgroup of 69 people reported pain and stiffness of the hip or knee at baseline. These patients reported increases in frequency and time of walking and vigorous exercise (all P < 0.001), with no change to OA symptom scores (pain and stiffness), and a small decline in physical functioning was reported at 12 months followup in the control group only (P = 0.027). At the 12-month followup more intervention participants than control participants (P = 0.013) reported a greater intention to exercise.
Conclusions: An offer of primary care-based physical activity advice, with an emphasis on the benefits for general health (rather than "treatment" for OA), will attract individuals with OA symptoms. Although the present study was unable to demonstrate intervention-control group differences for the majority of outcomes, intention to exercise did appear to be positively influenced.