OBJECTIVES: To assess whether group exercise and coping classes reduce physical and psychological impairments and functional disability in older women with prevalent vertebral fractures (VFs). DESIGN: Randomized, controlled trial (modified crossover) with site as unit of assignment; testing at baseline and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. SETTING: Nine North Carolina retirement communities. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred eighty-five postmenopausal Caucasian women (mean age 81), each with at least one VFs. INTERVENTION: The intervention group had 6 months of exercise (3 meetings weekly, 45 minutes each) and coping classes (2 meetings weekly, 45 minutes each) in Phase 1, followed by 6 months of self-maintenance. The control group had 6 months of health education control intervention (1 meeting weekly, 45 minutes) in Phase 1, followed by the intervention described above. MEASUREMENTS: Change in trunk extension strength, change in pain with activities, and change in psychological symptoms. RESULTS: Between-group differences in the change in trunk extension strength (10.68 foot pounds, P < .001) and psychological symptoms (-0.08, P = .011) were significant for Phase 1. Changes in pain with activities did not differ between groups (-0.03, P = .64); there was no change in the pain endpoint. In Phase 2, controls showed significant changes in trunk strength (15.02 foot pounds, P < .001) and psychological symptoms (-0.11, P = .006) from baseline. Change in pain with activities was not significant (-0.03, P = .70). During self-maintenance, the intervention group did not worsen in psychological symptoms, but improved trunk extension strength was not maintained. CONCLUSION: Weak trunk extension strength and psychological symptoms associated with VFs can be improved in older women using group treatment, and psychological improvements are retained for at least 6 months.
- Interdisciplinary intervention
- Quality of life
- Vertebral fractures