Changes in physical activity (PA) are difficult to interpret because no framework of minimal important difference (MID) exists. We aimed to determine the minimal important difference (MID) in physical activity (PA) in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and to clinically validate this MID by evaluating its impact on time to first COPD-related hospitalization.
PA was objectively measured for one week in 74 patients before and after three months of rehabilitation (rehabilitation sample). In addition the intraclass correlation coefficient was measured in 30 patients (test-retest sample), by measuring PA for two consecutive weeks. Daily number of steps was chosen as outcome measurement. Different distribution and anchor based methods were chosen to calculate the MID. Time to first hospitalization due to an exacerbation was compared between patients exceeding the MID and those who did not.
Calculation of the MID resulted in 599 (Standard Error of Measurement), 1029 (empirical rule effect size), 1072 (Cohen's effect size) and 1131 (0.5SD) steps.day -1. An anchor based estimation could not be obtained because of the lack of a sufficiently related anchor. The time to the first hospital admission was significantly different between patients exceeding the MID and patients who did not, using the Standard Error of Measurement as cutoff.