EHealth-based behavioral intervention for increasing physical activity in persons with multiple sclerosis: Fidelity protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Academic Article


  • Background: The rate of physical activity is substantially lower in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) than in the general population. This problem can be reversed through rigorous and reproducible delivery of behavioral interventions that target lifestyle physical activity in MS. These interventions are, in part, based on a series of phase II randomized controlled trials (RCTs) supporting the efficacy of an internet-delivered behavioral intervention, which is based on social cognitive theory (SCT) for increasing physical activity in MS. Objective: This paper outlines the strategies and monitoring plan developed based on the National Institutes of Health Behavior Change Consortium (NIH BCC) treatment fidelity workgroup that will be implemented in a phase III RCT. Methods: The Behavioral Intervention for Physical Activity in Multiple Sclerosis (BIPAMS) study is a phase III RCT that examines the effectiveness of an internet-delivered behavioral intervention based on SCT and is supported by video calls with a behavioral coach for increasing physical activity in MS. BIPAMS includes a 6-month treatment condition and 6-month follow-up. The BIPAMS fidelity protocol includes the five areas outlined by the NIH BCC. The study design draws on the SCT behavior-change strategy, ensures a consistent dose within groups, and plans for implementation setbacks. Provider training in theory and content will be consistent between groups with monitoring plans in place such as expert auditing of calls to ensure potential drift is addressed. Delivery of treatment will be monitored through the study website and training will focus on avoiding cross-contamination between conditions. Receipt of treatment will be monitored via coaching call notes and website monitoring. Lastly, enactment of treatment for behavioral and cognitive skills will be monitored through coaching call notes among other strategies. The specific strategies and monitoring plans will be consistent between conditions within the constraints of utilizing existing evidence-based interventions. Results: Enrollment began in February 2018 and will end in September 2019. The study results will be reported in late 2020. Conclusions: Fidelity-reporting guidelines provided by the NIH BCC were published in 2004, but protocols are scarce. This is the first fidelity-monitoring plan involving an electronic health behavioral intervention for increasing physical activity in MS. This paper provides a model for other researchers utilizing the NIH BCC recommendations to optimize the rigor and reproducibility of behavioral interventions in MS.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 19364608
  • Author List

  • Silveira SL; McCroskey J; Wingo BC; Motl RW
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 3