Background: There is a wide variability in measurement methodology of physical activity. This study investigated the effect of different analysis techniques on the statistical power of physical activity outcomes after pulmonary rehabilitation.
Methods: Physical activity was measured with an activity monitor armband in 57 patients with COPD (mean ± SD age, 66 ± 7 years; FEV1, 46 ± 17% predicted) before and after 3 months of pulmonary rehabilitation. The choice of the outcome (daily number of steps [STEPS], time spent in at least moderate physical activity [TMA], mean metabolic equivalents of task level [METS], and activity time [ACT]), impact of weekends, number of days of assessment, postprocessing techniques, and influence of duration of daylight time (DT) on the sample size to achieve a power of 0.8 were investigated.
Results: The STEPS and ACT (1.6-2.3 metabolic equivalents of task) were the most sensitive outcomes. Excluding weekends decreased the sample size for STEPS (83 vs 56), TMA (160 vs 148), and METS (251 vs 207). Using 4 weekdays (STEPS and TMA) or 5 weekdays (METS) rendered the lowest sample size. Excluding days with < 8 h wearing time reduced the sample size for STEPS (56 vs 51). Differences in DT were an important confounder.
Conclusions: Changes in physical activity following pulmonary rehabilitation are best measured for 4 weekdays, including only days with at least 8 h of wearing time (during waking hours) and considering the difference in DT as a covariate in the analysis.
Trial registry: ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT00948623; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.