GrOup based physical Activity for oLder adults (GOAL) randomized controlled trial: study protocol
Background Physical activity has health benefits across the lifespan, yet only 13 % of Canadian older adults are sufficiently active. Results from a number of observational studies indicate that adults display positive preferences for exercising with others of a similar age and same gender, and that intra-group age- and gender-similarity are associated with elevated exercise adherence. However, research has yet to experimentally examine the extent to which intra-group age- and gender-related similarity affect exercise adherence behaviors. Methods/design The GrOup-based physical Activity for oLder adults (GOAL) trial is a three-arm randomized control trial that will examine the efficacy of two different group-based exercise programs for older adults (informed by the tenets of self-categorization theory) in relation to a standard group-based exercise program. Within this manuscript we outline the design and proposed evaluation of the GOAL trial. The first arm is comprised of exercise groups made up of participants of a similar-age and of the same gender; the second arm consists of groups with similar-aged mixed gender participants; the control arm is comprised of mixed-aged mixed gender participants. We aim to compare the adherence rates of participants across conditions, as well as potential moderation effects and mediating mechanisms. Discussion Results from this trial will inform intervention designs to improve the exercise adherence behaviors of older adult. At a systems-level, should support be derived for the efficacy of the interventions tested in this trial, changing group composition (i.e., age, gender) represents a feasible program adaptation for physical activity centers. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov # NCT02023632 . Registered December 13, 2013.