Intervention effects on adolescent physical activity in the multicomponent SPACE study: a cluster randomized controlled trial

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 12;9(6):e99369. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099369. eCollection 2014.


Background: Multicomponent school-based interventions have the potential to reduce the age-related decline in adolescents' physical activity (PA), yet there is not consistent evidence to guide non-curricular and school environment interventions. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a multicomponent environmental school-based intervention, designed to reduce the age-related decline in PA among adolescents.

Methods: A cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted with 7 intervention and 7 control schools. Baseline measurements were carried out in spring 2010 with 2 years of follow-up. A total of 1,348 students (11-13 years, in grade 5 and 6) enrolled in the study at baseline. The 14 schools included in the study were located in the Region of Southern Denmark. The intervention consisted of organizational and physical changes in the school environment with a total of 11 intervention components. The primary outcome measure was overall PA (cpm, counts per minute) and was supported by analyses of time spent in MVPA, and time spent sedentary. Furthermore, a secondary outcome measure was PA in school time and during recess. PA was measured using accelerometer (Actigraph GT3X).

Results: A total of 797 students completed the trial and had valid accelerometer data. No significant difference was found for overall PA with an adjusted difference of -19.1 cpm (95% CI: -93, 53) or for school time activity with an adjusted difference of 6 cpm (95% CI: -73, 85). A sensitivity analysis revealed a positive significant intervention effect of PA in recess with an adjusted difference of 95 cpm.

Conclusions: No evidence was found of the overall effect of a non-curricular multicomponent school-based intervention on PA among Danish adolescents. The intervention was positively associated with PA during school time and recess, however, with small estimates. Lack of effect on overall PA could be due to both program theory and different degrees of implementation.

Trial registration: ISRCTN79122411.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Schools

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN79122411

Grant support

Trygfonden supported the SPACE study. The SPACE study is part of the Centre for Intervention Research in Health Promotion and Disease prevention. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.