Open Access Study protocol

A cluster randomised trial of a school-based intervention to prevent decline in adolescent physical activity levels: study protocol for the ‘Physical Activity 4 Everyone’ trial

Rachel Sutherland123*, Elizabeth Campbell123, David R Lubans4, Philip J Morgan4, Anthony D Okely5, Nicole Nathan123, Luke Wolfenden123, Jannah Jones13, Lynda Davies13, Karen Gillham13 and John Wiggers123

Author Affiliations

1 Hunter New England Population Health, Locked Bag 10, Wallsend, NSW, 2287, Australia

2 School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, 2308, Australia

3 Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, NSW, 2300, Australia

4 Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Education, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

5 Interdisciplinary Educational Research Institute and Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:57  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-57

Published: 22 January 2013



Adolescence is an established period of physical activity decline. Multi-component school-based interventions have the potential to slow the decline in adolescents’ physical activity; however, few interventions have been conducted in schools located in low-income or disadvantaged communities. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of a multi-component school-based intervention in reducing the decline in physical activity among students attending secondary schools located in disadvantaged communities.


The cluster randomised trial will be conducted with 10 secondary schools located in selected regions of New South Wales, Australia. The schools will be selected from areas that have a level of socio-economic status that is below the state average. Five schools will be allocated to receive an intervention based on the Health Promoting Schools framework, and will be supported by a part-time physical activity consultant placed in intervention schools who will implement a range of intervention adoption strategies. Study measures will be taken at baseline when students are in Year 7 (12–13 years) and again after 12- and 24-months. The primary outcome, minutes of moderate- to-vigorous- intensity physical activity per day and percentage of time in moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA), will be objectively assessed using accelerometers (Actigraph GT3x+). Group allocation and intervention delivery will commence after baseline data collection. The intervention will continue during school terms through to 24-month follow-up.


The study will provide evidence regarding the effectiveness of a multi-component school-based intervention that includes an in-school physical activity consultant targeting the physical activity levels of adolescents in disadvantaged Australian secondary schools.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612000382875.

Physical activity; Adolescents; School; Randomized controlled trial