The study protocol for the Dementia and Physical Activity (DAPA) trial was recently published in the journal BMC Trials. The DAPA trial is an important piece of work, led by researchers at the University of Warwick and Centre for Rehabilitation Research in Oxford (RRIO), which aims to establish whether exercise is effective in treating against functional and cognitive decline in adults with mild to moderate dementia.
Dementia is more common in older than in younger people, and as a result of the ageing of the population in developed countries, it is becoming more prevalent. Drug treatments for dementia are limited, and the main support offered to people with dementia and their families is generally services to mitigate against loss of function. Physical exercise has been identified as a possible non-pharmacological treatment for dementia.
DAPA is a randomised trial comparing an exercise intervention to best-practice usual care in people with mild to moderate dementia. The intervention is 29, 1 hour long exercise classes, delivered twice weekly, comprising aerobic and strength exercise, with support for participants to continue with exercise after the classes end. The primary outcome is cognition, secondary outcomes are behavioural symptoms, functional ability, quality of life and carer burden. A qualitative study capturing the experiences of participants, carers and staff delivering the intervention, and an economic analysis will be run in parallel with the main study.
Debbie Brown, RRIO research physiotherapist, said "It is considered good research practice to publish a detailed description of the study protocol. This not only enables replication of the trial, but also allows evaluation of how closely the study followed the protocol when the results are published".
More information about DAPA can be found on the University of Warwick website.