Rapidly adapting an effective health promoting intervention for older adults—choose to move—for virtual delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic Gray, Samantha M.; Franke, Thea; Sims-Gould, Joanie; McKay, Heather Anne, 1954-
Background The COVID-19 (COVID) pandemic shifted way of life for all Canadians. ‘Stay-at-home’ public health directives counter transmission of COVID but may cause, or exacerbate, older adults’ physical and social health challenges. To counter unintentional consequences of these directives, we rapidly adapted an effective health promoting intervention for older adults—Choose to Move (CTM)—to be delivered virtually throughout British Columbia (BC). Our specific objectives were to 1. describe factors that influence whether implementation of CTM virtually was acceptable, and feasible to deliver, and 2. assess whether virtual delivery retained fidelity to CTM’s core components. Methods We conducted a 3-month rapid adaptation feasibility study to evaluate the implementation of CTM, virtually. Our evaluation targeted two levels of implementation within a larger socioeconomic continuum: 1. the prevention delivery system, and 2. older adult participants. We implemented 33 programs via Zoom during BC’s 1st wave acute and transition stages of COVID (April–October 2020). We conducted semi-structured 30-45 min telephone focus groups with 9 activity coaches (who delivered CTM), and semi-structured 30-45 min telephone interviews with 30 older adult participants, at 0- and 3-months. We used deductive framework analysis for all qualitative data to identify themes. Results Activity coaches and older adults identified three key factors that influenced acceptability (a safe and supportive space to socially connect, the technological gateway, and the role of the central support unit) and two key factors that influenced feasibility (a virtual challenge worth taking on and CTM flexibility) of delivering CTM virtually. Activity coaches also reported adapting CTM during implementation; adaptations comprised two broad categories (time allocation and physical activity levels). Conclusion It was feasible and acceptable to deliver CTM virtually. Programs such as CTM have potential to mitigate the unintended consequences of public health orders during COVID associated with reduced physical activity, social isolation, and loneliness. Adaptation and implementation strategies must be informed by community delivery partners and older adults themselves. Pragmatic, virtual health promoting interventions that can be adapted as contexts rapidly shift may forevermore be an essential part of our changing world.
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