BACKGROUND: Increasing physical activity in the workplace can provide employee physical and mental health benefits, and employer economic benefits through reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. The workplace is an opportune setting to encourage habitual activity. However, there is limited evidence on effective behaviour change interventions that lead to maintained physical activity. This study aims to address this gap and help build the necessary evidence base for effective, and cost-effective, workplace interventions.
METHODS/DESIGN: This cluster randomised control trial will recruit 776 office-based employees from public sector organisations in Belfast and Lisburn city centres, Northern Ireland. Participants will be randomly allocated by cluster to either the Intervention Group or Control Group (waiting list control). The 6-month intervention consists of rewards (retail vouchers, based on similar principles to high street loyalty cards), feedback and other evidence-based behaviour change techniques. Sensors situated in the vicinity of participating workplaces will promote and monitor minutes of physical activity undertaken by participants. Both groups will complete all outcome measures. The primary outcome is steps per day recorded using a pedometer (Yamax Digiwalker CW-701) for 7 consecutive days at baseline, 6, 12 and 18 months. Secondary outcomes include health, mental wellbeing, quality of life, work absenteeism and presenteeism, and use of healthcare resources. Process measures will assess intervention "dose", website usage, and intervention fidelity. An economic evaluation will be conducted from the National Health Service, employer and retailer perspective using both a cost-utility and cost-effectiveness framework. The inclusion of a discrete choice experiment will further generate values for a cost-benefit analysis. Participant focus groups will explore who the intervention worked for and why, and interviews with retailers will elucidate their views on the sustainability of a public health focused loyalty card scheme.
DISCUSSION: The study is designed to maximise the potential for roll-out in similar settings, by engaging the public sector and business community in designing and delivering the intervention. We have developed a sustainable business model using a 'points' based loyalty platform, whereby local businesses 'sponsor' the incentive (retail vouchers) in return for increased footfall to their business.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN17975376 (Registered 19/09/2014).