Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

The 'Walking for Wellbeing in the West' randomised controlled trial of a pedometer-based walking programme in combination with physical activity consultation with 12 month follow-up: rationale and study design

Claire F Fitzsimons1*, Graham Baker1, Annemarie Wright1, Myra A Nimmo28, Catharine Ward Thompson3, Ruth Lowry1, Catherine Millington3, Rebecca Shaw4, Elisabeth Fenwick4, David Ogilvie5, Joanna Inchley6, Charlie E Foster7 and Nanette Mutrie1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Sport, Culture and the Arts, University of Strathclyde, 76 Southbrae Drive, Glasgow, G13 1PP, UK

2 Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, The John Arbuthnott Building, 27 Taylor Street, Glasgow, G4 0NR, UK

3 OPENspace, Edinburgh College of Art, Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9DF, UK

4 Public Health and Health Policy, Division of Community Based Sciences, University of Glasgow, 1 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow, G12 8RZ, UK

5 MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Box 285, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

6 CAHRU, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, St Leonard's Land, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ, UK

7 Division of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Rosemary Rue Building, Old Campus Road, Roosevelt Drive, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7LF, UK

8 School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Loughborough, UK

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:259  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-259

Published: 26 July 2008



Scotland has a policy aimed at increasing physical activity levels in the population, but evidence on how to achieve this is still developing. Studies that focus on encouraging real world participants to start physical activity in their settings are needed. The Walking for Well-being in the West study was designed to assess the effectiveness of a pedometer-based walking programme in combination with physical activity consultation. The study was multi-disciplinary and based in the community. Walking for Well-being in the West investigated whether Scottish men and women, who were not achieving the current physical activity recommendation, increased and maintained walking behaviour over a 12 month period. This paper outlines the rationale and design of this innovative and pragmatic study.


Participants were randomised into two groups: Group 1: Intervention (pedometer-based walking programme combined with a series of physical activity consultations); Group 2: Waiting list control for 12 weeks (followed by minimal pedometer-based intervention). Physical activity (primary outcome) was measured using pedometer step counts (7 day) and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (long version). Psychological processes were measured using questionnaires relating to the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change, mood (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule) and quality of life (Euroqol EQ-5D instrument). Physiological measures included anthropometric and metabolic outcomes. Environmental influences were assessed subjectively (Neighbourhood Quality of Life Survey) and objectively (neighbourhood audit tool and GIS mapping). The qualitative evaluation employed observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. A supplementary study undertook an economic evaluation.


Data analysis is on-going. Walking for Well-being in the West will demonstrate if a pedometer based walking programme, in combination with physical activity consultation results in a sustainable increase in walking behaviour in this sample of Scottish adults over a 12 month period. The study will examine the complex relationships between behavioural change, health consequences and the role of the environment, in conjunction with the cost effectiveness of this approach and a detailed insight into the participants' experiences of the intervention.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN88907382