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Table 1 Characteristics of included studies (n = 20)

From: The effectiveness of interventions aimed at increasing physical activity in adults with persistent musculoskeletal pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Author/Year Study Design No of Participants Gender Age Range Condition Intervention Control Condition Recruitment
PA Outcome Longest follow-up
Alaranta, 1994 [42] Controlled Clinical Trial 293 F160 M133 40.4 (4.8) Control
40.5 (4.6) Intervention
PLBP Home training programme + Inpatient rehabilitation with education Inpatient rehabilitation 40–50% less strenuous Finnish Social Security Insurance Institution Subjective - Leisure time PA (strenuousness) 12 months
Allen, 2016 [43]; Cluster RCT 300 (patients) 30 (providers) F28 M272 61.6 (9.2) OA hip/knee Patients - Physical activity and weight management counselling Healthcare providers received treatment recommendations Usual care Medical records veterans affairs CHAMPS 12 months (12 month intervention)
Becker, 2008 [44]; Cluster RCT 1378 (chronic pain subgroup 332) F801 M577 (entire group no figures for subgroup) 49.1 (13.3) guideline group
47.4 (13.5) guideline + MC 50.2 (14.3) Control
LBP (mixed) Practitioner education – guideline implementation
Practitioner education – guideline implementation + MI
Guideline delivered via post Primary Care GP’s Freiburg Questionnaire 12 months
Bossen, 2013 [45]; RCT 199 F129 M70 64 (6.6) All
61 (5.9) Intervention
63 (5.4) Control
OA hip/knee Web based intervention to increase PA using behavioural graded activity Waiting list Volunteers from newspapers and websites PASE and Subgroup ACTi graph 12 months
Brosseau, 2012; [46]; RCT 222 153F 69M 63.9 (103) Walking
63.9 (8.2) Walking + Booklet
62.3 (6.8) Control
OA Knee Walking group
Walking and behavioural education
Self-directed received educational pamphlet Unclear 7 day Par (recall) 18 months
Farr, 2010;[47]; RCT 293 F218 M75 55.5 (7.3) Resistance training
55.8 (6.1) Self-Management
54.2 (7.3) Combined
OA Knee Resistance training + self-management Self-management General community mass mailings, media ads and local physicians ACTi graph 7 days 9 months
Focht, 2014;[48]; RCT (pilot) 80 F67 M13 63.5 (6.86) OA Knee Group mediated cognitive behavioural exercise intervention Traditional centre based exercise Direct referral State Medical Centre Rheumatologists, ads Arthritis Foundation groups Accelerometer (PA Lifecorder plus) 7 days 12 months
Hiyama, 2012;[49]; RCT 40 32F 19M 71.9 (5.2) Walking
73.8 (5.7) Control
OA Knee Instructed to increase number of steps, physical therapy + programme of walking Physical therapy + advice re walking Unclear - community dwelling females Pedometer (steps per day) 4 weeks
Hughes, 2006;[50] RCT (block randomisation) 215 363F 56M 71.1 (59 -91 yrs) OA hip/knee Education, exercise and fitness walking Arthritis self-help book and information on exercise programmes in community Senior centres, newsletters, local media, presentations to senior groups Total minutes exercised 12 months
Hunter, 2012;[51]; RCT (feasibility) 51 167F M79 43.2 (13.5) Exercise
42.4 (11.3) Exercise Auricular Acupuncture
PLBP Exercise and acupuncture Exercise Primary Care GP’s, Physiotherapy waiting list and University population IPAQ (ActivPal - steps per day) 6 months
Hurley, 2015:[52]: RCT 246 40F 45.4 (11.4) PLBP Walking programme
Exercise class
Usual physiotherapy Physiotherapy departments IPAQ 12 months
Krien, 2013;[53]; RCT 229 29F 200M 51.2 (12.5) Walking
51.9 (12.8) Enhanced Usual Care
PLBP Walking group Enhanced usual care Individuals referred for back class and medical record system Pedometer (steps per day) 12 months
McDonough, 2013; [30]; RCT (feasibility) 56 31F 25M 51 (42 – 60 yrs) Exercise
48 (43 – 55 yrs) Exercise Walking Programme
PLBP Education and advice and walking group Usual care Physiotherapy waiting lists primary care MGROC PA (ActivPal - steps per day) 6 months
Meng, 2011;[54]; RCT 360 231F 129M 50.2 (7.6) Intervention
49.5 (7.7) Control
PLBP Biopsychosocial back school programme (inpatient) Traditional back school (setting unclear) Orthopaedic hospital - patients had applied for inpatient rehabilitation Freiburger Questionnaire 12 months
Pisters, 2010 [55] RCT Cluster
(analysis of secondary outcomes)
200 F154 M46 64.8 (7.9) OA Hip or Knee Behavioural graded activity and operant conditioning and exercise therapy Usual physiotherapy (per clinical guidelines) Physiotherapists and press releases in local newspapers PA SQUASH - Converted using METs total hrs. Per week in health enhancing PA 65 weeks (14.9 months)
Schlenk, 2011;[56]; RCT (feasibility) 26 F25 M1 63.2 (9.8) OA Knee (overweight) Counselling, exercise, fitness walking programme Usual care Rheumatology practices, arthritis disease network registry, self-referral Diary - Minutes walked per week and other aerobic PA minutes 12 months
Sullivan, 1998;[57]; RCT (follow-up) 102 (52 in this follow-up) F85 M17 (f44 m8) 70.38 (9.11) Intervention
68.48 (11.32) Control
OA Knee Supervised fitness walking and supportive education Standard medical care, weekly interviews about function and daily activity Community clinics, private clinics - rheumatology Recall - Average distance walked per week 12 months
Talbot, 2003;[31]; RCT 34 F26 M8 69.59 (6.74) Pedometer
70.76 (4.71) Education
OA Knee Arthritis self-management programme + walking programme Arthritis self-management programme Senior Centres and ads in local papers Pedometer (steps per day) + Accelerometer 6 months
Trudeau, 2015;[58]; RCT 228 (Subgroup 94) F72 M156 49.9 (11.6) Arthritis (all – subgroup data OA spine, large peripheral joints via author) Web-based painAction programme, informative articles, self-check assessments etc. Waiting list control Flyers in surgeries, Pain association members, google adwords, health professionals Aerobic exercise minutes (all) 6 months
Williams, 2011 [32] RCT (feasibility) 119 F76 M43 68.2 (8.1) Intervention
68.6 (8.5) control
OA Hip or Knee ‘New’ Advice booklet – emphasis on addressing exercise related beliefs Arthritis UK booklet GP Practices IPAQ 3 months
  1. PA Physical Activity, MI Motivational Interviewing, IPAQ International physical activity questionnaire, MGROC Modified global rating of change (physical activity), SQUASH Short questionnaire to assess health enhancing physical activity, PASE Physical activity scale for elderly, 7 day PAR 7-day physical activity recall, CHAMPS Community healthy activities model programme for seniors, OA Osteoarthritis, LBP Low back pain, PLBP Persistent low back pain, RCT Randomised controlled trial