Effectiveness of a Disability Preventive Intervention for Minority and Immigrant Elders: The Positive Minds-Strong Bodies Randomized Clinical Trial

Margarita Alegría, Walter Frontera, Mario Cruz-Gonzalez, Sheri Lapatin Markle, Chau Trinh-Shevrin, Ye Wang, Lizbeth Herrera, Rachel Zack Ishikawa, Esther Velazquez, Larimar Fuentes, Yuying Guo, Janet Pan, Megan Cheung, Jeanine Wong, Urania Genatios, Aida Jimenez, Zorangelí Ramos, Giselle Perez, Josephine Yankau Wong, Ching King ChiengStephen J. Bartels, Naihua Duan, Patrick E. Shrout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To test the acceptability and effectiveness of a disability prevention intervention, Positive Minds-Strong Bodies (PMSB), offered by paraprofessionals to mostly immigrant elders in four languages. Design: Randomized trial of 307 participants, equally randomized into intervention or enhanced usual care. Setting: Community-based organizations in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, and Puerto Rico serving minority elders. Data collected at baseline, 2, 6, and 12 months, between May 2015 and March 2019. Participants: English-, Spanish-, Mandarin-, or Cantonese-speaking adults, age 60+, not seeking disability prevention services, but eligible per elevated mood symptoms and minor to moderate physical dysfunction. Interventions: Ten individual sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (PM) concurrently offered with 36 group sessions of strengthening exercise training (SB) over 6 months compared to enhanced usual care. Measurements: Acceptability defined as satisfaction and attendance to >50% of sessions. Effectiveness determined by changes in mood symptoms (HSCL-25 and GAD-7), functional performance (SPPB), self-reported disability (LLFDI), and disability days (WHODAS 2.0). Results: Around 77.6% of intervention participants attended over half of PM Sessions; 53.4% attended over half of SB sessions. Intent-to-treat analyses at 6 months showed significant intervention effects: improved functioning per SPPB and LLFDI, and lowered mood symptoms per HSCL-25. Intent-to-treat analyses at 12 months showed that effects remained significant for LLFDI and HSCL-25, and disability days (per WHODAS 2.0) significantly decreased 6-month after the intervention. Conclusions: PMSB offered by paraprofessionals in community-based organizations demonstrates good acceptability and seems to improve functioning, with a compliance-benefit effect showing compliance as an important determinant of the intervention response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1299-1313
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • CHW
  • Racial/ethnic minority elders
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • disability
  • immigrants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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