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Open Access Study protocol

A cluster randomised trial to evaluate a physical activity intervention among 3-5 year old children attending long day care services: study protocol

Meghan Finch1*, Luke Wolfenden2, Philip J Morgan3, Megan Freund24, Rebecca Wyse2 and John Wiggers124

Author Affiliations

1 Hunter New England Population Health, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

2 School of Medicine and Public Health University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

3 School of Education, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

4 Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:534  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-534

Published: 8 September 2010



Young children are not participating in recommended levels of physical activity and exhibit high levels of sedentary behaviour. Childcare services provide access to large numbers of young children for prolonged periods, yet there is limited experimental evidence regarding the effectiveness of physical activity interventions implemented in this setting. The aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness and acceptability of a multi-component physical activity intervention, delivered by childcare service staff, in increasing the physical activity levels of children attending long day care services.


The study will employ a cluster randomised controlled trial design. Three hundred children aged between 3-5 years from twenty randomly selected long day care services in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia will be invited to participate in the trial. Ten of the 20 long day care services will be randomly allocated to deliver the intervention with the remaining ten services allocated to a wait list control group. The physical activity intervention will consist of a number of strategies including: delivering structured fundamental movement skill activities, increasing physical activity opportunities, increasing staff role modelling, providing children with a physical activity promoting indoor and outdoor environment and limiting children's small screen recreation and sedentary behaviours. Intervention effectiveness will be measured via child physical activity levels during attendance at long day care. The study also seeks to determine the acceptability and extent of implementation of the intervention by services and their staff participating in the study.


The trial will address current gaps in the research evidence base and contribute to the design and delivery of future interventions promoting physical activity for young children in long day care settings.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000087055