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Is an online exercise platform, such as Pactster/Beam an acceptable tool to promote exercise participation in adults with cystic fibrosis, with or without online physiotherapy support?

Rachael Bass, Stephen Bourke, Lisa Morrison, Lucia Diego-Vicente, Emma Hope, Laura Blanch, Sarah Lenaghan, Carlos Echevarria


Rachael BassThe Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals Trust, Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre, Newcastle Upon Tyne, U.K,,

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Cross infection risk prevents CF patients from exercising together. We assessed if, an online CF specific support platform is an acceptable and clinically effective method to promote exercise participation amongst adult CF patients and assessed its use with online physiotherapy support. Since the time of study the website has rebranded as For the purpose of this paper, it will be referred to as Pactster as its original form.


In a randomised controlled trial, 30 patients who identified as exercising <150 minutes/week were randomised to one of two closed online communities within the Pactster website: Pactster alone, which comprised of recorded online exercise videos and peer support versus Pactster and physiotherapy input, which included supported, scheduled exercise sessions and daily motivation from their specialist centre physiotherapist. The primary outcome was acceptability, measured at study completion at six weeks with a yes/no question. Other measures included lung function, exercise tolerance (Chester step test) and generic health status (EQ-5D-5L).


Of 230 patients, only 75 (33%) reported >150 minutes of exercise/week. 30 patients who identified as completing <150 minutes of exercise/week participated in the RCT, and 25 reported that Pactster was acceptable (p<0.001). For % predicted FEV1, there was a 6% difference between groups favouring the physiotherapy group. There was an improvement of 1.5 minutes in the Chester step test seen in the physiotherapy group, with no change in the Pactster alone group. The adjusted and unadjusted differences in utility and quality adjusted life years were similar in both arms.


This small study has shown that patients find the online exercise platform an acceptable approach to promote exercise participation in those that are motivated to access exercise support. Physiotherapy support was well received and may improve clinical outcome, though these results must be interpreted with caution given the small trial size, and require replication in a larger study.


• Patients with CF cannot exercise together due to the risk of cross infection.

• Online exercise platforms allow group exercise and virtual interaction.

• In this study, an online exercise platform is acceptable to 83% of patients.

• Additional online physiotherapy support may improve FEV1.


2022 Journal (Vol. 54 Issue 3)
Journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care. Volume 54. Issue 3. 2022. Article on: p47-61
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