A feasibility study of a peer-facilitated physical activity intervention in methadone maintenance

Ana M. Abrantes, Donnell Van Noppen, Genie Bailey, Lisa A. Uebelacker, Matthew Buman, Michael D. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: While methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) has been effective in improving opioid use outcomes, most patients continue to engage in unhealthy lifestyles that lead to significant mental and physical health consequences. Interventions targeting increases in physical activity (PA) in MMT patients could have a significant impact on reducing the overall morbidity in these individuals. The purpose of this study was to assess acceptability and feasibility of a 12-week peer-facilitated PA intervention for MMT patients called TREC (Transforming Recovery with Exercise and Community). Method: We developed and then pilot-tested TREC in 26 low-active MMT clients (73% female; mean age = 41.2 years). TREC included: 1) an orientation session and intervention materials, 2) weekly PA discussion groups led by trained MMT clients, 3) peer-led walking groups and 4) a Fitbit activity tracker to facilitate self-monitoring of PA. Results: Participants attended 63% of eligible TREC sessions. Sixty-nine percent of the sample wore the Fitbit for at least 6 weeks (of the 12-week intervention). Participants reported that they enjoyed the group walks and that it was helpful to have a peer-facilitated PA group. There were small-to-moderate effect sizes for increases in PA, positive affect, and benefits of PA, and decreases in illicit opioid use and barriers to PA. No changes in depression, anxiety, and negative affect were observed from baseline to the end of the 12-week intervention. Conclusion: Indicators of feasibility and acceptability suggest that a peer-facilitated PA intervention can be incorporated in the context of MMT. Low active, opioid dependent clients showed increases in PA during the 12-week intervention. A future randomized clinical trial is necessary to determine the efficacy of TREC on long-term maintenance of PA and ancillary mental health and substance use outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100419
JournalMental Health and Physical Activity
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Fitbit
  • Methadone maintenance
  • Peer-facilitation
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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