Background: Physical activity shows potential in combating the poor outcomes associated with depression in older people. Meta-analyses show gaps in the research with poor trial design compromising certainty in conclusions and few programmes showing sustained effects.
Methods/design: The Depression in Late Life: an Intervention Trial of Exercise (DeLLITE) is a 12 month randomised controlled trial of a physical activity intervention to increase functional status in people aged 75 years and older with depressive symptoms. The intervention involves an individualised activity programme based on goal setting and progression of difficulty of activities delivered by a trained nurse during 8 home visits over 6 months. The control group received time matched home visits to discuss social contacts and networks. Baseline, 6 and 12 months measures were assessed in face to face visits with the primary outcome being functional status (SPPB, NEADL). Secondary outcomes include depressive symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale), quality of life (SF-36), physical activity (AHS Physical Activity Questionnaire) and falls (self report).
Discussion: Due to report in 2008 the DeLLITE study has recruited 70% of those eligible and tests the efficacy of a home based, goal setting physical activity programme in improving function, mood and quality of life in older people with depressive symptomatology. If successful in improving function and mood this trial could prove for the first time that there are long term health benefit of physical activity, independent of social activity, in this high risk group who consume excess health related costs.
Trial registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register ACTRN12605000475640.