A self-management programme to reduce falls and improve safe mobility in people with secondary progressive MS: the BRiMS feasibility RCT

Hilary Gunn, Jackie Andrade, Lorna Paul, Linda Miller, Siobhan Creanor, Kara Stevens, Colin Green, Paul Ewings, Andrew Barton, Margie Berrow, Jane Vickery, Ben Marshall, John Zajicek, Jennifer Freeman*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background

Balance, mobility impairments and falls are common problems for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Our ongoing research has led to the development of Balance Right in MS (BRiMS), a 13-week home- and group-based exercise and education programme intended to improve balance and encourage safer mobility.

Objective

This feasibility trial aimed to obtain the necessary data and operational experience to finalise the planning of a future definitive multicentre randomised controlled trial.

Design

Randomised controlled feasibility trial. Participants were block randomised 1 : 1. Researcher-blinded assessments were scheduled at baseline and at 15 and 27 weeks post randomisation. As is appropriate in a feasibility trial, statistical analyses were descriptive rather than involving formal/inferential comparisons. The qualitative elements utilised template analysis as the chosen analytical framework.

Setting

Four sites across the UK.

Participants

Eligibility criteria included having a diagnosis of secondary progressive MS, an Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score of between ≥ 4.0 and ≤ 7.0 points and a self-report of two or more falls in the preceding 6 months.

Interventions

Intervention – manualised 13-week education and exercise programme (BRiMS) plus usual care. Comparator – usual care alone.

Main outcome measures

Trial feasibility, proposed outcomes for the definitive trial (including impact of MS, mobility, quality of life and falls), feasibility of the BRiMS programme (via process evaluation) and economic data.

Results

A total of 56 participants (mean age 59.7 years, standard deviation 9.7 years; 66% female; median EDSS score of 6.0 points, interquartile range 6.0–6.5 points) were recruited in 5 months; 30 were block randomised to the intervention group. The demographic and clinical data were broadly comparable at baseline; however, the intervention group scored worse on the majority of baseline outcome measures. Eleven participants (19.6%) withdrew or were lost to follow-up. Worsening of MS-related symptoms unrelated to the trial was the most common reason (n = 5) for withdrawal. Potential primary and secondary outcomes and economic data had completion rates of > 98% for all those assessed. However, the overall return rate for the patient-reported falls diary was 62%. After adjusting for baseline score, the differences between the groups (intervention compared with usual care) at week 27 for the potential primary outcomes were MS Walking Scale (12-item) version 2 –7.7 [95% confidence interval (CI) –17.2 to 1.8], MS Impact Scale (29-item) version 2 (MSIS-29vs2) physical 0.6 (95% CI –7.8 to 9) and MSIS-29vs2 psychological –0.4 (95% CI –9.9 to 9) (negative score indicates improvement). After the removal of one outlier, a total of 715 falls were self-reported over the 27-week trial period, with substantial variation between individuals (range 0–93 falls). Of these 715 falls, 101 (14%) were reported as injurious. Qualitative feedback indicated that trial processes and participant burden were acceptable, and participants highlighted physical and behavioural changes that they perceived to result from undertaking BRiMS. Engagement varied, influenced by a range of condition- and context-related factors. Suggestions to improve the utility and accessibility of BRiMS were highlighted.

Conclusions

The results suggest that the trial procedures are feasible and acceptable, and retention, programme engagement and outcome completion rates were sufficient to satisfy the a priori progression criteria. Challenges were experienced in some areas of data collection, such as completion of daily diaries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-198
Number of pages198
JournalHealth Technology Assessment
Volume23
Issue number27
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2019

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    Gunn, H., Andrade, J., Paul, L., Miller, L., Creanor, S., Stevens, K., Green, C., Ewings, P., Barton, A., Berrow, M., Vickery, J., Marshall, B., Zajicek, J., & Freeman, J. (2019). A self-management programme to reduce falls and improve safe mobility in people with secondary progressive MS: the BRiMS feasibility RCT. Health Technology Assessment, 23(27), 1-198. https://doi.org/10.3310/hta23270