Year-round effects of a four-week randomized controlled trial using different types of feedback on employees' physical activity

BMC Public Health. 2018 Apr 12;18(1):492. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5402-0.


Background: This follow-up study investigated the year-round effects of a four-week randomized controlled trial using different types of feedback on employees' physical activity, including a need-supportive coach intervention.

Methods: Participants (n = 227) were randomly assigned to a Minimal Intervention Group (MIG; no feedback), a Pedometer Group (PG; feedback on daily steps only), a Display Group (DG; feedback on daily steps, on daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity [MVPA] and on total energy expenditure [EE]), or a Coaching Group (CoachG; same as DG with need supportive coaching). Daily physical activity level (PAL; Metabolic Equivalent of Task [MET]), number of daily steps, daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), active daily EE (EE > 3 METs) and total daily EE were measured at five time points: before the start of the 4-week intervention, one week after the intervention, and 3, 6, and 12 months after the intervention.

Results: For minutes of MVPA, MIG showed higher mean change scores compared with the DG. For steps and daily minutes of MVPA, significantly lower mean change scores emerged for MIG compared with the PG. Participants of the CoachG showed significantly higher change scores in PAL, steps, minutes of MVPA, active EE, total EE compared with the MIG. As hypothesized, participants of the CoachG had significantly higher mean change scores in PAL and total EE compared with groups that only received feedback. However, no significant differences were found for steps, minutes of MVPA and active EE between CoachG and PG.

Conclusions: Receiving additional need-supportive coaching resulted in a higher PAL and active EE compared with measurement (display) feedback only. These findings suggest to combine feedback on physical activity with personal coaching in order to facilitate long-term behavioral change. When it comes to increasing steps, minutes of MVPA or active EE, a pedometer constitutes a sufficient tool.

Trial registration: Clinical NCT01432327 . Date registered: 12 September 2011.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Exercise*
  • Feedback, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Young Adult

Associated data