A cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the GoActive intervention to increase physical activity among adolescents aged 13-14 years

Helen Elizabeth Brown, Fiona Whittle, Stephanie T. Jong, Caroline Croxson, Stephen J. Sharp, Paul Wilkinson, Edward C. F. Wilson, Esther M. F. van Sluijs, Anna Vignoles, Kirsten Corder

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Introduction: Adolescent physical activity promotion is rarely effective, despite adolescence being critical for preventing physical activity decline. Low adolescent physical activity is likely to last into adulthood, increasing health risks. The Get Others Active (GoActive) intervention is evidence-based and was developed iteratively with adolescents and teachers. This intervention aims to increase physical activity through increased peer support, self-efficacy, group cohesion, self-esteem and friendship quality, and is implemented using a tiered-leadership system. We previously established feasibility in one school and conducted a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) in three schools. 

Methods and analysis: We will conduct a school-based cluster RCT (CRCT) in 16 secondary schools targeting all year 9 students (n=2400). In eight schools, GoActive will run for two terms: weekly facilitation support from a council-funded intervention facilitator will be offered in term 1, with more distant support in term 2. Tutor groups choose two weekly activities, encouraged by older adolescent mentors and weekly peer leaders. Students gain points for trying new activities; points are entered into a between-class competition. Outcomes will be assessed at baseline, interim (week 6), postintervention (week 14-16) and 10-month follow-up (main outcome). The primary outcome will be change from baseline in daily accelerometer-assessed moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Secondary outcomes include accelerometer-assessed activity intensities on weekdays/weekends; self-reported physical activity and psychosocial outcomes; cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses; mixed-methods process evaluation integrating information from focus groups and participation logs/questionnaires. 

Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval for the conduct of the study was gained from the University of Cambridge Psychology Research Ethics Committee. Given the lack of rigorously evaluated interventions, and the inclusion of objective measurement of physical activity, long-term follow-up and testing of causal pathways, the results of a CRCT of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of GoActive are expected to add substantially to the limited evidence on adolescent physical activity promotion. Workshops will be held with key stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, school governors and government representatives to discuss plans for wider dissemination of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere014419
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2017


  • adolescent
  • health behaviour
  • intervention
  • physical activity
  • promotion

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