Development of a universal approach to increase physical activity among adolescents: the GoActive intervention

Kirsten Corder, Annie Schiff, Jo Kesten, Esther M F van Sluijs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To develop a physical activity (PA)
promotion intervention for adolescents using a process
addressing gaps in the literature while considering
participant engagement. We describe the initial
development stages; (1) existing evidence, (2) large
scale opinion gathering and (3) developmental
qualitative work, aiming (A) to gain insight into how
to increase PA among the whole of year 9
(13–14 years-old) by identifying elements for
intervention inclusion (B) to improve participant
engagement and (C) to develop and refine
programme design.
Methods: Relevant systematic reviews and longitudinal
analyses of change were examined. An intervention was
developed iteratively with older adolescents (17.3
±0.5 years) and teachers, using the following process:
(1) focus groups with (A) adolescents (n=26) and (B)
teachers (n=4); (2) individual interviews (n=5) with
inactive and shy adolescents focusing on engagement
and programme acceptability. Qualitative data were
analysed thematically.
Results: Limitations of the existing literature include
lack of evidence on whole population approaches,
limited adolescent involvement in intervention
development, and poor participant engagement.
Qualitative work suggested six themes which may
encourage adolescents to do more PA; choice, novelty,
mentorship, competition, rewards and flexibility.
Teachers discussed time pressures as a barrier to
encouraging adolescent PA and suggested betweenclass
competition as a strategy. GoActive aims to
increase PA through increased peer support, selfefficacy,
group cohesion, self-esteem and friendship
quality, and is implemented in tutor groups using a
student-led tiered-leadership system.
Conclusions: We have followed an evidence-based
iterative approach to translate existing evidence into an
adolescent PA promotion intervention. Qualitative work
with adolescents and teachers supported intervention
design and addressed lack of engagement with health
promotion programmes within this age group. Future
work will examine the feasibility and effectiveness of
GoActive to increase PA among adolescents while
monitoring potential negative effects. The approach
developed is applicable to other population groups and
health behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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