Open Access Study protocol

Mindful "Vitality in Practice": an intervention to improve the work engagement and energy balance among workers; the development and design of the randomised controlled trial

Jantien van Berkel12, Karin I Proper12, Cécile RL Boot12*, Paulien M Bongers23 and Allard J van der Beek12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public and Occupational Health - EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Body@Work, Research Center on Physical Activity, Work and Health, TNO-VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3 Department of Work and Employment, TNO Quality of Life, Hoofddorp, the Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:736  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-736

Published: 27 September 2011



Modern working life has become more mental and less physical in nature, contributing to impaired mental health and a disturbed energy balance. This may result in mental health problems and overweight. Both are significant threats to the health of workers and thus also a financial burden for society, including employers. Targeting work engagement and energy balance could prevent impaired mental health and overweight, respectively.


The study population consists of highly educated workers in two Dutch research institutes. The intervention was systematically developed, based on the Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol, involving workers and management in the process. The workers' needs were assessed by combining the results of interviews, focus group discussions and a questionnaire with available literature. Suitable methods and strategies were selected resulting in an intervention including: eight weeks of customized mindfulness training, followed by eight sessions of e-coaching and supporting elements, such as providing fruit and snack vegetables at the workplace, lunch walking routes, and a buddy system. The effects of the intervention will be evaluated in a RCT, with measurements at baseline, six months (T1) and 12 months (T2). In addition, cost-effectiveness and process of the intervention will also be evaluated.


At baseline the level of work engagement of the sample was "average". Of the study population, 60.1% did not engage in vigorous physical activity at all. An average working day consists of eight sedentary hours. For the Phase II RCT, there were no significant differences between the intervention and the control group at baseline, except for vigorous physical activity. The baseline characteristics of the study population were congruent with the results of the needs assessment. The IM protocol used for the systematic development of the intervention produced an appropriate intervention to test in the planned RCT.

Trial registration number

Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2199

Work Engagement; Energy balance related behaviours; Physical Activity; Sedentary behaviour; Dietary behaviour; RCT; Mindfulness