BackgroundGirls are less active than boys and few adolescent girls meet physical activity (PA) guidelines. Peers are an important influence on the views and behaviours of adolescent girls, yet many PA interventions involving peers use formal approaches that may not harness the power of peer groups. More informal peer-led PA interventions, which work within proximal peer groups, may hold promise for increasing girls’ PA.
ObjectivesTo examine the feasibility, evidence of promise and cost of the Peer-Led physical Activity iNtervention for Adolescent girls (PLAN-A), a peer-led PA intervention.
DesignPhase 1 comprised formative work and a pilot study conducted in one secondary school. Phase 2 was a feasibility study comprising a pilot randomised controlled trial in six secondary schools, including process and economic evaluations.
SettingSix secondary schools in South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, recruited from schools above the median local Pupil Premium (i.e. more deprived).
ParticipantsYear 8 girls (aged 12–13 years).
InterventionYear 8 girls nominated other girls in their year who are likely to be influential (e.g. who they look up to, are good listeners); the 18% most nominated were invited to be peer supporters (PSs). PSs attended 2 consecutive days of training (plus a top-up day 5 weeks later) outside the school site, led by pairs of PS trainers, to increase their knowledge about PA and their capabilities and confidence to promote PA in their friendship group.
Main outcome measuresMeasures focused on establishing evidence for feasibility and promise: recruitment and retention of Year 8 girls and PSs, data provision rates [accelerometer and questionnaire collected pre randomisation/beginning of Year 8 (T0), end of Year 8 (T1) and beginning of Year 9 (T2)], intervention acceptability, PS training attendance, intervention cost, and the between-arm difference in weekday minutes of moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA). A process evaluation was conducted.
ResultsSix schools were recruited: four PLAN-A (n = 269) and two control (n = 158). In total, 94.7% of Year 8 girls participated. A total of 55 (17–24% of Year 8 girls) PSs were trained (attendance rate 91–100%). Five girls were trained as PS trainers. Questionnaire data provision exceeded 92% at all time points. Accelerometer return rates were > 85% and wear-time criteria were met by 83%, 71% and 62% of participants at T0, T1 and T2, respectively. Mean weekday MVPA did not differ between intervention arms at T1 (1.1 minutes, 95% CI –4.3 to 6.5 minutes) but did at T2 (6.1 minutes, 95% CI 1.4 to 10.8 minutes), favouring PLAN-A. The mean cost of intervention delivery was £2685 per school or £37 per Year 8 girl. Process evaluation identified good fidelity, engagement and enjoyment of the PS training and peer-support strategies. PSs needed more guidance on how to start conversations.
LimitationsAccelerometer data provision was lowest at T2, suggesting a need for strategies to increase compliance.
ConclusionsInformal peer-led intervention approaches, such as PLAN-A, hold promise as a means of promoting PA to adolescent girls.
Future workA definitive randomised controlled trial of PLAN-A is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages204
JournalPublic Health Research
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019

Structured keywords

  • DECIPHer
  • BRTC
  • BTC (Bristol Trials Centre)


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