Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

'Physical activity at home (PAAH)', evaluation of a group versus home based physical activity program in community dwelling middle aged adults: rationale and study design

Nicole Freene1*, Gordon Waddington2, Wendy Chesworth2, Rachel Davey3 and John Goss3

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

2 Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

3 Centre for Research & Action in Public Health, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:883  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-883

Published: 24 November 2011



It is well recognised that the adoption and longer term adherence to physical activity by adults to reduce the risk of chronic disease is a challenge. Interventions, such as group and home based physical activity programs, have been widely reported upon. However few studies have directly compared these interventions over the longer term to determine their adherence and effectiveness. Participant preference for home based or group interventions is important. Some evidence suggests that home based physical activity programs are preferred by middle aged adults and provide better long term physical activity adherence. Physiotherapists may also be useful in increasing physical activity adherence, with limited research on their impact.


'Physical Activity at Home' is a 2 year pragmatic randomised control trial, with a non-randomised comparison to group exercise. Middle-aged adults not interested in, or unable to attend, a group exercise program will be targeted. Sedentary community dwelling 50-65 year olds with no serious medical conditions or functional impairments will be recruited via two mail outs using the Australian federal electoral roll. The first mail out will invite participants to a 6 month community group exercise program. The second mail out will be sent to those not interested in the group exercise program inviting them to take part in a home based intervention. Eligible home based participants will be randomised into a 6 month physiotherapy-led home based physical activity program or usual care. Outcome measures will be taken at baseline, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. The primary outcome is physical activity adherence via exercise diaries. Secondary outcomes include the Active Australia Survey, accelerometry, aerobic capacity (step test), quality of life (SF-12v2), blood pressure, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index. Costs will be recorded prospectively and qualitative data will be collected.


The planned 18 month follow-up post intervention will provide an indication of the effectiveness of the group and home based interventions in terms of adherence to physical activity, health benefits and cost. If the physiotherapy-led home based physical activity program is successful it could provide an alternative option for physical activity program delivery across a number of settings.

Trial registration

Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12611000890932