This trial is active, not recruiting.

Condition multiple sclerosis
Treatments mstep, general guideline approach
Sponsor McGill University
Start date September 2012
End date December 2016
Trial size 240 participants
Trial identifier NCT01611987, CIHR258309, NCT01032707


Despite the benefits of exercise and physical activity people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are relatively inactive. Physical activity is important for persons with disabilities to maintain physical function. A lack of physical activity can contribute to heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, and diabetes. At the moment, the best way for people with MS to exercise and be physical activity is unknown. People with MS report not knowing what to do. This is a barrier to exercise.

The global aim of this study is to contribute evidence for the role of targeted exercise in altering MS outcomes over time. The design is a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The primary research question is to what extent does an MS Tailored Exercise Program (MSTEP) result in greater improvements in exercise capacity and related outcomes in comparison to a program based on general guidelines for exercise among people with MS who are sedentary and wish to engage in exercise as part of MS self-management. The primary outcome for this question is exercise capacity measured using cycle ergometry. However exercise efficiency, functional ambulation, strength, components of quality of life including frequency and intensity of fatigue symptoms, mood, global physical function, health perception, and illness intrusiveness, will also be measured as components of a global response outcome. The first confirmatory hypothesis is that MSTEP will result in a greater proportion of people making clinically relevant gains (at least 10% change) in exercise capacity than with general guidelines after 12 months of intervention; a secondary hypothesis is that, while there may be some decline in exercise capacity among individuals from end of intervention to follow-up one year later, the decline will be greater in the general guideline group augmenting the difference between groups in the proportion making 10% change from study entry to 24 months. In other words, gains will be maintained more for the MSTEP group over the general guideline group.

An exploratory hypothesis is that more of the targeted outcomes will improve with the MSTEP program than the general guideline approach. An explanatory hypothesis is that these gains will be accompanied by reports of greater exercise enjoyment and exercise self-efficacy (confidence) with the MSTEP program than with the general guideline program leading to more consistent exercise engagement and improved long-term adherence.

United States No locations recruiting
Other countries No locations recruiting

Study Design

Allocation randomized
Endpoint classification efficacy study
Intervention model parallel assignment
Masking single blind (outcomes assessor)
Primary purpose treatment
The MSTEP program is a 6 day tailored exercise program. It includes flexibility, aerobic, peripheral strengthening, core and balance training, power and speed training and push days.
Participant will meet with instructor twice to learn how to exercise safely. Exercises will be demonstrated and practiced under the direct supervision of the instructor. Written details and pictures will be made. Variety in exercise will be encouraged to promote long-term adherence. Stretching, strengthening and relaxation exercises will be given. Persons will be given Thera Band® to facilitate resistance exercise training and instructed how to progress. Equipment such as Nordic Walking Poles, stationary bicycle, BOSU®, or exercise balls will be available. Rather than having a fixed rigid prescription, the aim is to get people to intuitively adjust the amount of resistance so they feel they are working without causing harm, they are not doing the same boring activity, week in week out.
(Active Comparator)
The general Guideline approach is the general guidelines that are recommended for people with MS by the Canadian Society Exercise Physiology.
general guideline approach
Individuals in the control condition will meet with the exercise instructor on two occasions during the first two weeks to review key components of public health guidelines for physical activity and health. In brief, the general guidelines for MS are (i) aerobic and endurance exercise for 30 minutes per session, 3 times per week at an intensity of 60% to 75% of heart rate peak; (ii) weight training for weak muscles, 2 days per week, on non-endurance days, 8 to 15 repetitions per exercise; and (iii) stretching daily with active or passive range of motion exercises, or attendance at Yoga or Tai Chi classes.

Primary Outcomes

oxygen consumption
time frame: 3 timepoints: baseline, at 12 monts, at 24 months

Secondary Outcomes

muscle strength measured with Biodex
time frame: 3 timepoints: Baseline, at 12 months, at 24 months
6 Minute Walk test (6MWT)
time frame: 5 timepoints: at baseline, at 6 months, at 12 months, at 18 months, at 24 months
Anaerobic leg power
time frame: 1 timepoint: baseline
Patient Determined Disease Steps (PDDS)
time frame: 5 timepoints: at baseline, at 6 months, at 12 months, at 18 months, at 24 months
Change in fatigue levels
time frame: 5 timepoints: at baseline, at 6 months, at 12 months, at 18 months, at 24 months
Rand 36
time frame: 5 timepoints: at baseline, at 6 months, at 12 months, at 18 months, at 24 months
time frame: 5 timepoints: at baseline, at 6 months, at 12 months, at 18 months, at 24 months
Patient generated Index
time frame: 5 timepoints: at baseline, at 6 months, at 12 months, at 18 months, at 24 months
Exercise Self-Efficacy Scale
time frame: 5 timepoints: at baseline, at 6 months, at 12 months, at 18 months, at 24 months
Change in perception about exercise benefits and exercise barrier
time frame: 5 timepoints: at baseline, at 6 months, at 12 months, at 18 months, at 24 months
Modified Canadian Aerobic Fitness test
time frame: 3 timepoints: 3 month, 6 month and 18 month

Eligibility Criteria

Male or female participants from 19 years up to 65 years old.

Inclusion Criteria: - be community dwelling individuals aged 19 -65 who have been diagnosed after 1994 with MS or CIS; - be able to speak and read English or French; - be capable of walking 100 meters without a walking aid (EDSS ≤ 5.5), even if they do use an aid for daily activities. Exclusion Criteria: - have an additional illness that restricts their function; and/or - had suffered at least one relapse during the past 30 days (as defined by Polman) as this may affect physical activity/exercise participation.

Additional Information

Official title The Role of Exercise in Modifying Outcomes for People With Multiple Sclerosis
Principal investigator Nancy E Mayo, PhD
Description The proposal is for an assessor-blind, parallel-group, stratified, randomized controlled trial. Potential participants will be identified from the population of persons enrolled in 3 MS clinics in the Montreal area and in 3 clinics in Toronto. All persons who are known to be ambulatory and not to have co-morbidity preventing exercise engagement or capacity to consent will be informed of the study in writing and will be invited for an assessment to determine eligibility for entry into the trial. Those consenting will be randomly assigned to either the MSTEP program or the general exercise guideline program. The intervention period will be one year with follow-up to a second year. The investigators are targeting a sample size of 120 per group (total 240), which would be sufficient to detect RR of > 1.5 with 80% power. Sample size estimated using pc-size software. The sample size takes into account that drop-outs will inflate the variance of outcomes as multiple imputation will be used to deal with missing data. The main analysis will be logistic regression to test the main hypothesis related to the superiority of the MSTEP program based on a greater proportion of people making a clinically relevant gain in exercise capacity at 1 year. A secondary outcome will be the differences in proportions at 2 years also using logistic regression. The analysis will be based on intention-to-treat and all persons will be analysed in the groups to which they were randomized. A secondary analysis will estimate the impact of exercise on the other relevant outcomes. For this approach, each outcome will be converted to a binary response variable based on published clinically meaningful changes and generalized estimating equations (GEE) will be used to test the rate of response in the MSTEP program to the rate of response in the general guideline approach. Multiple outcomes improves the efficiency of the study as the total number of data points is equivalent to the total n multiplied by the number of tests and reduced by the extent to which the outcomes are correlated. Highly correlated outcomes will make the effective sample size smaller than less strongly correlated outcomes. If there is a statistically significant effect of the intervention, then and only then, can the effects of the separate outcomes be interpreted as real. The results of the trial will be used to develop guidelines for exercise for MS. The investigators are in the process of copyrighting the name of the program (MSTEP). Upon publication of the findings, the description of content will be made available at no cost. If proven effective, a training guide for professionals and patients will be produced most likely taking advantage of the end-of-grant Knowledge Translation (KT) Supplement. Note: The investigators have been funded by the KT supplement to produce a general guide for people with MS, entitled: Getting on with Your Life with MS. The knowledge generated can be used by people with MS and health professional to promote exercise engagement.
Trial information was received from ClinicalTrials.gov and was last updated in October 2015.
Information provided to ClinicalTrials.gov by McGill University.