Gamification-Augmented hoMe-based Exercise for Peripheral Artery Disease: Rationale and Design of the GAMEPAD Study.

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BACKGROUND: Supervised treadmill exercise improves walking performance, functional capacity, and quality of life in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD). However, few patients with PAD are enrolled in supervised exercise programs, and there are a number of logistical and financial barriers to their participation. A home-based walking intervention is likely to be more accessible to patients with PAD, but no fully home-based walking program has demonstrated efficacy. Concepts from behavioral economics have been used to design scalable interventions that increase daily physical activity in patients with atherosclerotic vascular disease, but whether a similar program would be effective in patients with PAD is uncertain.

STUDY DESIGN AND OBJECTIVES: GAMEPAD (NCT04536012) is a pragmatic, virtual, randomized controlled trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a gamification strategy informed by concepts from behavioral economics to increase daily physical activity in patients with PAD who are seen in cardiology and vascular surgery clinics affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Patients are contacted by email or text message, and complete enrollment and informed consent on the Penn Way to Health online platform. A GAMEPAD substudy will evaluate the effectiveness of opt-in versus opt-out framing when approaching patients for study participation. Patients are then provided with a wearable fitness tracker, establish a baseline daily step count, set a goal to increase daily step count by 33-50%, and are randomized 1:1 to the gamification or control arms. Interventions continue for 16 weeks, including a 4-week period during which goal step count is gradually increased in the gamification arm, with follow-up for an additional 8 weeks to evaluate the durability of behavior change. The trial has met its enrollment goal of 102 participants, with a primary endpoint of change from baseline in daily steps over the 16-week intervention period. Key secondary endpoints include change from baseline in daily steps over the 8-week post-intervention follow-up period and changes in patient-reported measures of PAD symptoms and quality of life over the intervention and follow-up periods.

CONCLUSIONS: GAMEPAD is a virtual, pragmatic randomized clinical trial of a novel, fully home-based walking intervention informed by concepts from behavioral economics to increase physical activity and PAD-specific quality of life in patients with PAD. Its results will have important implications for the application of behavioral economic concepts to scalable home-based strategies to promote physical activity in patients with PAD and other disease processes where physical activity is limited by exertional symptoms.





Medicine and Health Sciences




Cardiology Division, Department of Surgery

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