A loyalty scheme to encourage physical activity in office workers: a cluster RCT

Hunter, R. F. et al. (2019) A loyalty scheme to encourage physical activity in office workers: a cluster RCT. Public Health Research, 7(15), (doi: 10.3310/phr07150)

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Background: Increasing physical activity in the workplace can provide physical and mental health benefits for employees and economic benefits for the employer through reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. However, there is limited evidence on effective behaviour change interventions in workplace settings that led to maintained physical activity. This study aimed to address this gap and contribute to the evidence base for effective and cost-effective workplace interventions. Objectives: To determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Physical Activity Loyalty scheme, a multicomponent intervention based on concepts similar to those that underpin a high-street loyalty card, which was aimed at encouraging habitual physical activity behaviour and maintaining increases in mean number of steps per day. Design: A cluster randomised controlled trial with an embedded economic evaluation, behavioural economic experiments, mediation analyses and process evaluation. Setting: Office-based employees from public sector organisations in Belfast and Lisburn city centres in Northern Ireland. Participants: A total of 853 participants [mean age 43.6 years (standard deviation 9.6 years); 71% of participants were female] were randomly allocated by cluster to either the intervention group or the (waiting list) control group. Intervention: The 6-month intervention consisted of financial incentives (retail vouchers), feedback and other evidence-based behaviour change techniques. Sensors situated in the vicinity of the workplaces allowed participants to monitor their accumulated minutes of physical activity. Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was mean number of steps per day recorded using a sealed pedometer (Yamax Digiwalker CW-701; Yamax, Tasley, UK) worn on the waist for 7 consecutive days and at 6 and 12 months post intervention. Secondary outcomes included health, mental well-being, quality of life, work absenteeism and presenteeism, and the use of health-care resources. Results: The mean number of steps per day were significantly lower for the intervention group than the control group [6990 mean number of steps per day (standard deviation 3078) vs. 7576 mean number of steps per day (standard deviation 3345), respectively], with an adjusted mean difference of –336 steps (95% confidence interval –612 to –60 steps; p = 0.02) at 6 months post baseline, but not significantly lower at 12 months post baseline. There was a small but significant enhancement of mental well-being in the intervention group (difference between groups for the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale of 1.34 points, 95% confidence interval 0.48 to 2.20 points), but not for the other secondary outcomes. An economic evaluation suggested that, overall, the scheme was not cost-effective compared with no intervention. The intervention was £25.85 (95% confidence interval –£29.89 to £81.60) more costly per participant than no intervention and had no effect on quality-adjusted life-years (incremental quality-adjusted life-years –0.0000891, 95% confidence interval –0.008 to 0.008). Limitations: Significant restructuring of participating organisations during the study resulted in lower than anticipated recruitment and retention rates. Technical issues affected intervention fidelity. Conclusions: Overall, assignment to the intervention group resulted in a small but significant decline in the mean pedometer-measured steps per day at 6 months relative to baseline, compared with the waiting list control group. The Physical Activity Loyalty scheme was deemed not to be cost-effective compared with no intervention, primarily because no additional quality-adjusted life-years were gained through the intervention. Research to better understand the mechanisms of physical activity behaviour change maintenance will help the design of future interventions. Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN17975376. Funding: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research programme and will be published in full in Public Health Research; Vol. 7, No. 15. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Xin, Miss Yiqiao and McIntosh, Professor Emma
Authors: Hunter, R. F., Gough, A., Murray, J. M., Tang, J., Brennan, S. F., Chrzanowski-Smith, O. J., Carlin, A., Patterson, C., Longo, A., Hutchinson, G., Prior, L., Tully, M. A., French, D. P., Adams, J., McIntosh, E., Xin, Y., and Kee, F.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment
Journal Name:Public Health Research
Publisher:NIHR Journals Library
ISSN (Online):2050-439X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Queen's Printer and Controller of HMSO
First Published:First published in Public Health Research 7(15)
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy
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