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Telephone Counseling For Exercise

August 24, 2015

Aaron Turner, PHD and Alicia Sloan, MPH, MSW, LICSC, preformed a study called “Improving Fatigue and Depression in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis Using Telephone-Administered Physical Activity Counseling” which was done using 64 veterans. What they looked for in the veterans was to see if fatigue and depression were affected by exercise.

The impact of physical activity to improve fatigue and depression in patients with MS was the study’s main objective. The 64 veterans received either telephone counseling or self-directed physical activity education after they were screened in order to become part of the study.

Telephone counseling entailed mailed graphic feedback (informative feedback from the initial interview) and a way to track their progress on exercise goals. There were also six counseling sessions via telephone that used motivational interviewing (a form of brief psychological counseling). These sessions also utilized telehealth home monitoring which included telephones, home telehealth monitors and computerized ankle step monitors.

The self-directed physical activity education contained advice and a DVD produced by the VA called Get Fit for Life which included examples of in-home exercises that involved exercises for various physical abilities.

The study followed up with the groups at three months and then again at six months. The telephone counseling group showed a significant amount of increases in physical activity since they had been monitored. This group also were found to have a reduced amount of fatigue and depression.


While it is likely the intervention is to be delivered in a similar manner, like through telephone communication, the ultimate goal is to have a service developed that can be brought to patients homes at a low cost. The findings of the study are able to suggest that this telephone based counseling combined with home monitoring is promising not only for improving physical activity in MS patients, but also in treating fatigue and depression. 

Telephone Counseling For Exercise - Mon August 24, 2015 9:33 AM