Fibromyalgia (FM), defined as the presence of both chronic widespread pain and the finding of 11/18 tender points on examination, is an illness associated with major personal and societal burden. Supervised aerobic exercise is an important treatment modality to improve patient symptoms. Unfortunately, adherence to an exercise regimen after a structured supervised program is disappointingly low. Since FM is a chronic illness, studies are needed to test strategies that would enhance exercise adherence in these individuals. Individuals who are able to adhere to exercise almost always maintain the symptomatic benefits of exercise. The objective of this paper was to describe the protocol of the Research to Encourage Exercise for Fibromyalgia (REEF). REEF is a randomized attention-controlled trial that seeks to test the efficacy of 6 sessions of telephone delivered motivational interviewing (MI) that targets exercise adherence to improve FM-relevant clinical outcomes (i.e., physical function and pain severity). The trial has recently completed enrolling 216 subjects, and randomization has resulted in well-balanced groups. Details on the study design, MI program, and treatment fidelity are provided in the paper. Outcome assessments at week 12, week 24 and week 36 will test the immediate, intermediate and long-term effects of exercise-based MI on adherence (as measured by the Community Health Activities Model Program for Seniors/CHAMPS and accelerometer) and clinical outcomes. When completed, REEF will determine whether exercise-based MI could be utilized as a management strategy to sustain the clinical benefits of exercise for FM.
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