Last updated on April 2018

Lifestyle Physical Activity Intervention for Depressed Alcohol Dependent Women


Brief description of study

Building on the large body of evidence for the effect of exercise in decreasing depressive symptoms and the few preliminary findings of its effect on craving and drinking outcomes, the purpose of this study is to develop a lifestyle physical activity (LPA) intervention that harnesses the technological advantages of the Fitbit tracker (plus its web and mobile platforms) for depressed women with alcohol use disorders (AUDs). The intervention will provide women with an acceptable, flexible and effective alternate coping strategy during early recovery, when relapse risk is highest. The overall objective of this work is to fully develop this LPA+Fitbit intervention, modify it based on initial piloting and feedback to ensure its feasibility and acceptability for depressed women with AUDs in early recovery, propose potential mechanisms of its effect, and to obtain preliminary data on its efficacy.

Detailed Study Description

Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are the 3rd leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and are associated with significant economic burden and health-related negative consequences. While women may be less likely to develop AUDs, they experience more significant negative health consequences of alcohol use than men. Due to stigma, shame, and child care issues; women are less likely to receive specialty addiction treatment. The comorbidity of depression and AUDs is much higher in women, and compared to men, women depression often has a temporal onset prior to an AUD. Relapse rates are very high in both men and women but significant gender differences emerge in the predictors of relapse. Women are more likely to relapse in unpleasant, negative emotional states and depressive symptoms and negative affect mediate the relationship between these stressors and drinking outcomes. More so than men, women with AUDs report drinking to cope with negative emotions. Therefore, intervention approaches that help women develop alternate coping strategies can have an important role in decreasing alcohol relapse among depressed women with AUDs. Given the demonstrated benefits of exercise for decreasing depression, negative affect, and urges to drink, helping women engage in a flexible and acceptable lifestyle physical activity (LPA) intervention may provide them a tool they can utilizing "in the moment" to cope with negative emotional states and alcohol craving during early recovery when relapse risk is highest. Exciting new digital fitness technologies (e.g., Fitbit activity monitor with web and mobile applications) have emerged in recent years that include features able to further enhance critical components for increasing physical activity - goal setting and self-monitoring. The investigators propose to develop a 12-week LPA+Fitbit intervention for depressed women in alcohol treatment. This will include:

  1. an in-person physical activity (PA) counseling orientation session; 2) 4 brief, phone-based PA counseling sessions focused on increasing PA and strategically using bouts of PA to cope with affect and alcohol cravings; 3) use of the Fitbit fitness tracker for physical activity goal-setting and daily self-monitoring; and 4) weekly supportive messages delivered by text message. The overall objective of this application is to develop this LPA+Fitbit intervention, modify it based on a initial open pilot (n=20) and feedback to ensure its feasibility and acceptability for depressed women with AUDs in early recovery, propose potential mechanisms, and to obtain preliminary data on its efficacy in a small randomized clinical trial (n=50). The LPA+Fitbit intervention proposed in this application is simple, low-cost, and easily transportable to the varied clinical settings women with AUDs receive treatment. If women with AUDs find the LPA+Fitbit intervention feasible, acceptable, and helpful during early recovery, they could be afforded with a much needed alternate coping strategy that would reduce relapse risk and decrease the overall negative impact of alcohol use on their health and well-being.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02705898

Contact Investigators or Research Sites near you

Start Over

Ana M. Abrantes, Ph.D.

Butler Hospital
Providence, RI United States
  Connect »