A feasibility study of 'The StepSmart Challenge' to promote physical activity in adolescents

Rekesh Corepal, Paul Best, Roisin O'Neill, Frank Kee, Jennifer Badham, Laura Dunne, Sarah Miller, Paul Connolly, Margaret E. Cupples, Esther M.F. Van Sluijs, Mark A. Tully, Ruth F. Hunter*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background: Inactive lifestyles are becoming the norm and creative approaches to encourage adolescents to be more physically active are needed. Little is known about how gamification techniques can be used in physical activity interventions for young people. Such approaches may stimulate interest and encourage physical activity behaviour. The study investigated the feasibility of implementing and evaluating a physical activity intervention for adolescents which included gamification techniques within schools. We tested recruitment and retention strategies for schools and participants, the use of proposed outcome measures, and explored intervention acceptability. Methods: This school-based feasibility study of a randomised cluster trial recruited adolescents aged 12-14 years (n = 224) from five schools (three intervention; two control) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The 22-week intervention (The StepSmart Challenge) informed by self-determination theory and incorporating gamification strategies involved a school-based pedometer competition. Outcomes, measured at baseline, and post-intervention (at 22 weeks post-baseline and 52 weeks post-baseline) included daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (measured using ActiGraph accelerometer), mental wellbeing (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale), social support for physical activity, time preference (for delayed and larger rewards or immediate and smaller rewards), pro-social behaviour (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)) and the influence of social networks. The intervention's acceptability was explored in focus groups. Results: We invited 14 schools to participate; eight showed interest in participating. We recruited the first five who responded; all five completed the trial. Of the 236 pupils invited, 224 participated (94.9%): 84.8% (190/224) provided valid MVPA (minutes/day) at baseline and 57.2% (123/215) at 52 weeks. All other outcomes were well completed apart from the SDQ (65% at baseline). Qualitative data highlighted that participants and teachers found The StepSmart Challenge to be an acceptable intervention. Conclusions: The level of interest and high recruitment and retention rates provide support for the feasibility of this trial. The intervention, incorporating gamification strategies and the recruitment methods, using parental opt-out procedures, were acceptable to participants and teachers. Teachers also suggested that the implementation of The StepSmart Challenge could be embedded in a lifelong learning approach to health within the school curriculum. As young people's lives become more intertwined with technology, the use of innovative gamified interventions could be one approach to engage and motivate health behavioural change in this population. Trial registration: NCT02455986 (date of registration: 28 May 2015).

Original languageEnglish
Article number132
Number of pages15
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2019

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Feasibility Studies
Exercise
Reward
Social Support
Northern Ireland
Personal Autonomy
School Health Services
Social Behavior
Pupil
Focus Groups
Curriculum
Life Style
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
Learning
Technology
Health
Population

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Behaviour change
  • Feasibility
  • Gamification
  • Intervention
  • Mixed methods
  • Physical activity
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Schools

Cite this

Corepal, Rekesh ; Best, Paul ; O'Neill, Roisin ; Kee, Frank ; Badham, Jennifer ; Dunne, Laura ; Miller, Sarah ; Connolly, Paul ; Cupples, Margaret E. ; Van Sluijs, Esther M.F. ; Tully, Mark A. ; Hunter, Ruth F. / A feasibility study of 'The StepSmart Challenge' to promote physical activity in adolescents. In: Pilot and Feasibility Studies. 2019 ; Vol. 5, No. 1.
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title = "A feasibility study of 'The StepSmart Challenge' to promote physical activity in adolescents",
abstract = "Background: Inactive lifestyles are becoming the norm and creative approaches to encourage adolescents to be more physically active are needed. Little is known about how gamification techniques can be used in physical activity interventions for young people. Such approaches may stimulate interest and encourage physical activity behaviour. The study investigated the feasibility of implementing and evaluating a physical activity intervention for adolescents which included gamification techniques within schools. We tested recruitment and retention strategies for schools and participants, the use of proposed outcome measures, and explored intervention acceptability. Methods: This school-based feasibility study of a randomised cluster trial recruited adolescents aged 12-14 years (n = 224) from five schools (three intervention; two control) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The 22-week intervention (The StepSmart Challenge) informed by self-determination theory and incorporating gamification strategies involved a school-based pedometer competition. Outcomes, measured at baseline, and post-intervention (at 22 weeks post-baseline and 52 weeks post-baseline) included daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (measured using ActiGraph accelerometer), mental wellbeing (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale), social support for physical activity, time preference (for delayed and larger rewards or immediate and smaller rewards), pro-social behaviour (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)) and the influence of social networks. The intervention's acceptability was explored in focus groups. Results: We invited 14 schools to participate; eight showed interest in participating. We recruited the first five who responded; all five completed the trial. Of the 236 pupils invited, 224 participated (94.9{\%}): 84.8{\%} (190/224) provided valid MVPA (minutes/day) at baseline and 57.2{\%} (123/215) at 52 weeks. All other outcomes were well completed apart from the SDQ (65{\%} at baseline). Qualitative data highlighted that participants and teachers found The StepSmart Challenge to be an acceptable intervention. Conclusions: The level of interest and high recruitment and retention rates provide support for the feasibility of this trial. The intervention, incorporating gamification strategies and the recruitment methods, using parental opt-out procedures, were acceptable to participants and teachers. Teachers also suggested that the implementation of The StepSmart Challenge could be embedded in a lifelong learning approach to health within the school curriculum. As young people's lives become more intertwined with technology, the use of innovative gamified interventions could be one approach to engage and motivate health behavioural change in this population. Trial registration: NCT02455986 (date of registration: 28 May 2015).",
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author = "Rekesh Corepal and Paul Best and Roisin O'Neill and Frank Kee and Jennifer Badham and Laura Dunne and Sarah Miller and Paul Connolly and Cupples, {Margaret E.} and {Van Sluijs}, {Esther M.F.} and Tully, {Mark A.} and Hunter, {Ruth F.}",
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A feasibility study of 'The StepSmart Challenge' to promote physical activity in adolescents. / Corepal, Rekesh; Best, Paul; O'Neill, Roisin; Kee, Frank; Badham, Jennifer; Dunne, Laura; Miller, Sarah; Connolly, Paul; Cupples, Margaret E.; Van Sluijs, Esther M.F.; Tully, Mark A.; Hunter, Ruth F.

In: Pilot and Feasibility Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1, 132, 17.11.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - A feasibility study of 'The StepSmart Challenge' to promote physical activity in adolescents

AU - Corepal, Rekesh

AU - Best, Paul

AU - O'Neill, Roisin

AU - Kee, Frank

AU - Badham, Jennifer

AU - Dunne, Laura

AU - Miller, Sarah

AU - Connolly, Paul

AU - Cupples, Margaret E.

AU - Van Sluijs, Esther M.F.

AU - Tully, Mark A.

AU - Hunter, Ruth F.

PY - 2019/11/17

Y1 - 2019/11/17

N2 - Background: Inactive lifestyles are becoming the norm and creative approaches to encourage adolescents to be more physically active are needed. Little is known about how gamification techniques can be used in physical activity interventions for young people. Such approaches may stimulate interest and encourage physical activity behaviour. The study investigated the feasibility of implementing and evaluating a physical activity intervention for adolescents which included gamification techniques within schools. We tested recruitment and retention strategies for schools and participants, the use of proposed outcome measures, and explored intervention acceptability. Methods: This school-based feasibility study of a randomised cluster trial recruited adolescents aged 12-14 years (n = 224) from five schools (three intervention; two control) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The 22-week intervention (The StepSmart Challenge) informed by self-determination theory and incorporating gamification strategies involved a school-based pedometer competition. Outcomes, measured at baseline, and post-intervention (at 22 weeks post-baseline and 52 weeks post-baseline) included daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (measured using ActiGraph accelerometer), mental wellbeing (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale), social support for physical activity, time preference (for delayed and larger rewards or immediate and smaller rewards), pro-social behaviour (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)) and the influence of social networks. The intervention's acceptability was explored in focus groups. Results: We invited 14 schools to participate; eight showed interest in participating. We recruited the first five who responded; all five completed the trial. Of the 236 pupils invited, 224 participated (94.9%): 84.8% (190/224) provided valid MVPA (minutes/day) at baseline and 57.2% (123/215) at 52 weeks. All other outcomes were well completed apart from the SDQ (65% at baseline). Qualitative data highlighted that participants and teachers found The StepSmart Challenge to be an acceptable intervention. Conclusions: The level of interest and high recruitment and retention rates provide support for the feasibility of this trial. The intervention, incorporating gamification strategies and the recruitment methods, using parental opt-out procedures, were acceptable to participants and teachers. Teachers also suggested that the implementation of The StepSmart Challenge could be embedded in a lifelong learning approach to health within the school curriculum. As young people's lives become more intertwined with technology, the use of innovative gamified interventions could be one approach to engage and motivate health behavioural change in this population. Trial registration: NCT02455986 (date of registration: 28 May 2015).

AB - Background: Inactive lifestyles are becoming the norm and creative approaches to encourage adolescents to be more physically active are needed. Little is known about how gamification techniques can be used in physical activity interventions for young people. Such approaches may stimulate interest and encourage physical activity behaviour. The study investigated the feasibility of implementing and evaluating a physical activity intervention for adolescents which included gamification techniques within schools. We tested recruitment and retention strategies for schools and participants, the use of proposed outcome measures, and explored intervention acceptability. Methods: This school-based feasibility study of a randomised cluster trial recruited adolescents aged 12-14 years (n = 224) from five schools (three intervention; two control) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The 22-week intervention (The StepSmart Challenge) informed by self-determination theory and incorporating gamification strategies involved a school-based pedometer competition. Outcomes, measured at baseline, and post-intervention (at 22 weeks post-baseline and 52 weeks post-baseline) included daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (measured using ActiGraph accelerometer), mental wellbeing (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale), social support for physical activity, time preference (for delayed and larger rewards or immediate and smaller rewards), pro-social behaviour (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)) and the influence of social networks. The intervention's acceptability was explored in focus groups. Results: We invited 14 schools to participate; eight showed interest in participating. We recruited the first five who responded; all five completed the trial. Of the 236 pupils invited, 224 participated (94.9%): 84.8% (190/224) provided valid MVPA (minutes/day) at baseline and 57.2% (123/215) at 52 weeks. All other outcomes were well completed apart from the SDQ (65% at baseline). Qualitative data highlighted that participants and teachers found The StepSmart Challenge to be an acceptable intervention. Conclusions: The level of interest and high recruitment and retention rates provide support for the feasibility of this trial. The intervention, incorporating gamification strategies and the recruitment methods, using parental opt-out procedures, were acceptable to participants and teachers. Teachers also suggested that the implementation of The StepSmart Challenge could be embedded in a lifelong learning approach to health within the school curriculum. As young people's lives become more intertwined with technology, the use of innovative gamified interventions could be one approach to engage and motivate health behavioural change in this population. Trial registration: NCT02455986 (date of registration: 28 May 2015).

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KW - Intervention

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KW - Physical activity

KW - Randomised controlled trial

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