The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (the Portal) was launched in 2014 as a knowledge translation (KT) tool to increase access to evidence-based health information.
The purpose of this study was to understand if and how dissemination of mobility information through the Portal impacts physical activity (PA) in older adults.
In this randomized controlled trial, participants (n=510) were assigned to a 12-week mobility-focused KT intervention or self-serve control group. The intervention included weekly email alerts and a study-specific social media hashtag linking to mobility-focused Portal materials. The control group was able to access the Portal on their own but did not receive targeted KT strategies. Participants completed questionnaires (including the Rapid Assessment of Physical Activity to quantify PA) at baseline, end of the study, and 3-month follow-up.
Participants were predominantly female (430/510, 84.3%), mean age 64.7 years, with no baseline differences between groups. Over half (277/510, 54.3%) of the participants were classified as “active” at baseline. There was no significant between-group difference in the PA category. Overall, both groups increased their PA with improvements maintained at 3-month follow-up (<i>P</i><.001). In planned subgroup analyses, the KT intervention had a significant effect for those with poor or fair baseline self-rated health (<i>P</i>=.03).
No differences were found between those who received the targeted intervention and a control group with self-serve access to the Portal, except in subgroups with low self-rated health. Both groups did report increases in PA that were sustained beyond participation in a research study. Findings suggest that different KT strategies may be needed for different types of users, with more intense interventions being most impactful for certain groups (ie, those with lower self-rated health).
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02947230; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02947230