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Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study

Long Name:Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study

As the life expectancy of older Americans increases, prevention of age-associated physical function decline and disabilities has emerged as a major clinical and public health priority. A critical factor in an older person’s ability to function independently is mobility, the ability to move without assistance. Older people who lose mobility are less likely to remain in the community, have higher rates of morbidity, mortality, and hospitalizations and experience a poorer quality of life. While several studies suggest that physical exercise may prevent physical disability, including mobility disability in both healthy and frail older adults, definitive evidence is lacking. A Phase 3 randomized, controlled trial is needed to fill this evidence gap. Currently data to estimate sample size needs for such a trial are insufficient, and further feasibility data should be gathered before such a trial can be effectively designed and implemented. 

To refine key trial design benchmarks (including sample size calculations to demonstrate the feasibility of a full-scale trial and refining/developing recruitment, procedures, materials and organizational infrastructure), the LIFE (Lifestyle Interventions for Independence in Elders) study conducts a pilot, single-blind randomized, controlled trial involving comparison of a physical exercise program of moderate intensity to a successful aging health education program. A total of 400 sedentary persons aged 70-85 years who are at risk of disability are followed for at least one year at four intervention sites: Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston Salem, NC, the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, the Cooper Institute in Dallas, TX, and the Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. The Administrative Coordinating Center and the Data Management and Quality Control Center are at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The LIFE study assesses the combined outcome of major mobility disability defined as the incapacity to walk 400 m, or death, which will be the primary outcome of the full-scale study. This outcome has not been used in previous randomized, controlled trials, and therefore, a pilot study is needed to assess its incidence rate. Secondary outcomes include ADL disability, major fall injuries and cardiovascular events. LIFE explores the effects of the intervention on physical performance measures, cognitive function, health-related quality of life, and use of health care services. In addition, LIFE  explores and performs cost-effectiveness analyses of the intervention.

This pilot study led to the necessary preliminary data to design a definitive Phase 3 randomized, controlled trial. By providing a conclusive answer regarding whether physical exercise is effective for preventing major mobility disability or death, the results of the full-scale trial will have relevant clinical and public health implications, and will fill an important gap in knowledge for practicing evidence-based geriatric medicine.


Last Updated: 09-12-2016
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