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Open Access Study protocol

A randomised controlled trial and cost-effectiveness evaluation of "booster" interventions to sustain increases in physical activity in middle-aged adults in deprived urban neighbourhoods

Daniel Hind1, Emma J Scott2*, Robert Copeland2, Jeff D Breckon2, Helen Crank2, Stephen J Walters3, John E Brazier3, Jon Nicholl3, Cindy Cooper3 and Elizabeth Goyder3

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield, S1 4DA, UK

2 The Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University, Collegiate Crescent Campus, Sheffield, S10 2BP, UK

3 School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield, S1 4DA, UK

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-3

Published: 4 January 2010



Systematic reviews have identified a range of brief interventions which increase physical activity in previously sedentary people. There is an absence of evidence about whether follow up beyond three months can maintain long term physical activity. This study assesses whether it is worth providing motivational interviews, three months after giving initial advice, to those who have become more active.


Study candidates (n = 1500) will initially be given an interactive DVD and receive two telephone follow ups at monthly intervals checking on receipt and use of the DVD. Only those that have increased their physical activity after three months (n = 600) will be randomised into the study. These participants will receive either a "mini booster" (n = 200), "full booster" (n = 200) or no booster (n = 200). The "mini booster" consists of two telephone calls one month apart to discuss physical activity and maintenance strategies. The "full booster" consists of a face-to-face meeting with the facilitator at the same intervals. The purpose of these booster sessions is to help the individual maintain their increase in physical activity. Differences in physical activity, quality of life and costs associated with the booster interventions, will be measured three and nine months from randomisation. The research will be conducted in 20 of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Sheffield, which have large, ethnically diverse populations, high levels of economic deprivation, low levels of physical activity, poorer health and shorter life expectancy. Participants will be recruited through general practices and community groups, as well as by postal invitation, to ensure the participation of minority ethnic groups and those with lower levels of literacy. Sheffield City Council and Primary Care Trust fund a range of facilities and activities to promote physical activity and variations in access to these between neighbourhoods will make it possible to examine whether the effectiveness of the intervention is modified by access to community facilities. A one-year integrated feasibility study will confirm that recruitment targets are achievable based on a 10% sample.


The choice of study population, study interventions, brief intervention preceding the study, and outcome measure are discussed.

Trial Registration

Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN56495859; NCT00836459.