Effectiveness of a Disability Preventive Intervention for Minority and Immigrant Elders: The Positive Minds-Strong Bodies Randomized Clinical Trial

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2019 Dec;27(12):1299-1313. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2019.08.008. Epub 2019 Aug 13.


Objective: To test the acceptability and effectiveness of a disability prevention intervention, Positive Minds-Strong Bodies (PMSB), offered by paraprofessionals to mostly immigrant elders in four languages.

Design: Randomized trial of 307 participants, equally randomized into intervention or enhanced usual care.

Setting: Community-based organizations in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, and Puerto Rico serving minority elders. Data collected at baseline, 2, 6, and 12 months, between May 2015 and March 2019.

Participants: English-, Spanish-, Mandarin-, or Cantonese-speaking adults, age 60+, not seeking disability prevention services, but eligible per elevated mood symptoms and minor to moderate physical dysfunction.

Interventions: Ten individual sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (PM) concurrently offered with 36 group sessions of strengthening exercise training (SB) over 6 months compared to enhanced usual care.

Measurements: Acceptability defined as satisfaction and attendance to >50% of sessions. Effectiveness determined by changes in mood symptoms (HSCL-25 and GAD-7), functional performance (SPPB), self-reported disability (LLFDI), and disability days (WHODAS 2.0).

Results: Around 77.6% of intervention participants attended over half of PM Sessions; 53.4% attended over half of SB sessions. Intent-to-treat analyses at 6 months showed significant intervention effects: improved functioning per SPPB and LLFDI, and lowered mood symptoms per HSCL-25. Intent-to-treat analyses at 12 months showed that effects remained significant for LLFDI and HSCL-25, and disability days (per WHODAS 2.0) significantly decreased 6-month after the intervention.

Conclusions: PMSB offered by paraprofessionals in community-based organizations demonstrates good acceptability and seems to improve functioning, with a compliance-benefit effect showing compliance as an important determinant of the intervention response.

Keywords: CHW; Racial/ethnic minority elders; anxiety; depression; disability; immigrants.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Asian Americans
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Community Health Workers
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Exercise*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Patient Health Questionnaire
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physical Functional Performance*
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Whites