Active children through individual vouchers - evaluation (ACTIVE): protocol for a mixed method randomised control trial to increase physical activity levels in teenagers

BMC Public Health. 2017 Jul 11;18(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4554-7.


Background: Many teenagers are insufficiently active despite the health benefits of physical activity (PA). There is strong evidence to show that inactivity and low fitness levels increase the risk of non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease (CHD), type 2 diabetes and breast and colon cancers (Lee et al. Lancet 380:219-29, 2012). A major barrier facing adolescents is accessibility (e.g. cost and lack of local facilities). The ACTIVE project aims to tackle this barrier through a multi-faceted intervention, giving teenagers vouchers to spend on activities of their choice and empowering young people to improve their fitness and PA levels.

Design: ACTIVE is a mixed methods randomised control trial in 7 secondary schools in Swansea, South Wales. Quantitative and qualitative measures including PA (cooper run test (CRT), accelerometery over 7 days), cardiovascular (CV) measures (blood pressure, pulse wave analysis) and focus groups will be undertaken at 4 separate time points (baseline, 6 months,12 months and follow-up at 18 months). Intervention schools will receive a multi-component intervention involving 12 months of £20 vouchers to spend on physical activities of their choice, a peer mentor scheme and opportunities to attend advocacy meetings. Control schools are encouraged to continue usual practice. The primary aim is to examine the effect of the intervention in improving cardiovascular fitness.

Discussion: This paper describes the protocol for the ACTIVE randomised control trial, which aims to increase fitness, physical activity and socialisation of teenagers in Swansea, UK via a voucher scheme combined with peer mentoring. Results can contribute to the evidence base on teenage physical activity and, if effective, the intervention has the potential to inform future physical activity interventions and policy.

Trial registration: ISRCTN75594310 (Assigned 06/03/2017).

Keywords: Fitness; Mixed methods; Peer mentor; Physical activity; Teenagers; Voucher.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring
  • Peer Group
  • Physical Fitness
  • Research Design
  • Schools*
  • Wales

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN75594310