Middle-age (45-64) is a time of health vulnerability for millions of Americans. More than 50% of individuals in the U.S. will have two or more chronic conditions by age 60, contributing to increased risk of later disability. However, for individuals with long-term physical disabilities (LTPDs) such as spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis, these risks are magnified. This vulnerable population is especially in need of interventions to promote community participation and improve disease self-management during midlife. Over the past 5 years, our research team has adapted an evidence-based health promotion intervention designed for older adults to serve middle-aged and older adults with LTPD. We now have a trial version of this intervention (called ?EnhanceWellness for Disability?; EW-D) with promising findings in pilot testing, ready for a larger community trial. Through a new partnership with 3 regional Centers for Independent Living, we can now test this program for people with LTPD in 14 counties in the Northwest U.S.A. The broad, long-term aims of this proposal are to test the efficacy of this program relative to two control conditions (an attention-matched health education control, and treatment as usual), in 600 community dwelling adults aged 45-64 with LTPD, using modern outcome scales appropriate for people with LTPD. Our primary outcome is ability to participate in valued community activities. We will seek to determine whether the intervention was effective, and if so, what mechanisms of change drove the effect. In addition to self-report, we will also collect objective measures of community activity, via GPS and travel diaries, in a randomly selected subset of 300 participants.
Our specific aims are as follows:
Specific Aim 1. To determine the efficacy of eight sessions of EW-D, relative to an attention control condition or treatment as usual, in middle-aged adults with LTPD. Our primary outcome will be self-reported ability to participate in valued community activities.
Specific Aim 2. To determine if observed intervention effects are due to (1) improved disease management self-efficacy, (2) decreased interference due to pain and fatigue, or (3) improvements in psychological resilience. Secondary Analyses. To determine if 1) intervention effects are maintained at 12 months; and 2) intervention effects can be detected in objective, GPS based measures of activity (quantified as number of trips outside the home, time outside the home, area of travel, and activity in established categories). We will also examine the potential moderating effects of biological sex on treatment response. This approach is consistent with goals described in recent NIA and NINR program announcements, including those calling for age-appropriate interventions to improve self-management of chronic conditions (PA 14-344) and those calling for prevention research for adults in midlife (PA-15-098). If hypotheses are confirmed, this work would support a program that could be used to promote health and wellness in both able-bodied older adults and middle-aged adults with LTPD, which would be novel to the field, and could improve reach.
Relevance. For people living with long-term physical disabilities, such as spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis, middle- age (45-64) is a period of great vulnerability for losses in function and participation. There is an urgent need to develop and test interventions that can be delivered through existing community service agencies to help these people maximize their community participation and quality of life. This research will test the efficacy of one such intervention in a community trial, and thereby contribute to our understanding of the intervention's effectiveness and mechanisms of action.