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Two randomised controlled trials have been undertaken in the United States to test the effectiveness of the lifestyle intervention developed by Clark and her colleagues. In 1999 three hundred and sixty one community living older people participated in the well-elderly study. One third of the participants were randomly allocated to the Lifestyle Redesign programme facilitated by occupational therapists over a nine-month period. In addition to attending the programme, individuals within the Lifestyle Redesign programme also received monthly visits from the facilitators to enable them to pursue their individual goals. One third of participants were allocated to weekly social and recreational activities for an equivalent length of time. These were not led by occupational therapists. A third group received no intervention and acted as a control.

The participants’ health, function and quality of life were measured both before and after the programme began. Six months after the programme ended further measurements were taken. Statistical analysis demonstrated that individuals participating in the Lifestyle Redesign programme experienced significant improvements in general health, physical and social functioning, mood and well-being. It was also found that being regularly engaged in activity through the social activity programme was no more effective in promoting health than receiving no interventions. Furthermore, six months later, in the absence of further treatment, 90 per cent of the benefit achieved from the Lifestyle Redesign programme was sustained (Mandel et al, 1999).

The well-elderly 2 randomised controlled trial was conducted in 2011. Four hundred and sixty men and women aged 60-95 were recruited to participate. This time the occupational therapy intervention was compared to a no treatment control condition over a six month experimental phase. Intervention participants relative to untreated controls showed more favourable change scores on indices of bodily pain, vitality, social functioning, mental health, composite mental functioning, life satisfaction and depressive symptomology. The intervention group had a significantly greater increment in quality of adjusted life years.