To examine the applicability and feasibility of an intervention directed at improving continence, endurance, and strength (Functional Incidental Training [FIT]), for older patients in Veterans Administration (VA) nursing homes.
Data were collected during a randomized, controlled, crossover trial.
Four VA nursing homes.
All 528 patients in the nursing homes were screened, 178 were eligible, and 107 were randomized into the trial. A total of 64 participants completed the intervention phase of the trial.
Trained research staff provided the FIT intervention, which included prompted voiding combined with individualized, functionally oriented endurance and strength training exercises offered four times per day, 5 days per week, for 8 weeks.
Descriptive data were collected relevant to the translation of the FIT intervention into everyday practice, including number of patients eligible and reasons for ineligibility, attrition rates and reasons for attrition, participant adherence to and satisfaction with FIT, and the costs of FIT relative to usual care.
One third of the 528 patients met the eligibility criteria. The major reasons for ineligibility were being continent, age under 60, and a short anticipated length of stay. Of the 146 patients enrolled in the trial, 85 (58%) dropped out during the 9- to 10-month project. Deterioration in health status, death, and discharge accounted for two thirds of the attrition. Adherence to FIT was in general high but variable. Participants completed prompted voiding plus at least one exercise in 75% of the FIT rounds offered. Of the 60 participants who completed the protocol and who could answer simple questions, 75% indicated they enjoyed FIT, but 62% indicated that the exercise was too frequent, and 28% indicated they were offered opportunities to toilet too often. Based on timed observations, the costs of FIT are about four times as high as usual continence care.
FIT is applicable to a substantial number of patients in VA nursing homes. The FIT protocol tested in this trial can be further refined and individualized based on patient preferences and adherence to various components of FIT in order to make it more feasible, efficient, and cost-effective in practice. The costs of maintaining an intervention such as FIT in all VA nursing home patients who may benefit, however, are high and must be justified largely by potential positive effects on function and quality of life, as opposed to cost savings resulting from the intervention.