Results of a feasibility cluster randomised controlled trial of a peer-led school-based intervention to increase the physical activity of adolescent girls (PLAN-A)

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2018 Jun 7;15(1):50. doi: 10.1186/s12966-018-0682-4.


Background: Most adolescent girls in the UK do not meet government physical activity recommendations and effective interventions are needed. This study reports the results of a feasibility trial of PLAN-A, a novel school-based peer-led physical activity intervention for adolescent girls.

Methods: A two-arm cluster randomised controlled feasibility study was conducted in six English secondary schools (4 intervention & 2 control). Year 8 (age 12-13) girls were eligible and randomisation was at school-level. The intervention involved training Year 8 girls (out of school for two consecutive days, plus one top-up day 5 weeks later), who were identified by their peers as influential, to provide informal support to their friends to increase their physical activity. Feasibility of the intervention and the research was examined, including: recruitment, training attendance and data provision rates, evidence of promise of the intervention to affect weekday moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), intervention cost and estimation of the sample size for a definitive trial. Accelerometer and questionnaire data were collected at the beginning of Year 8 (Time 0), the end of Year 8 (10-weeks after peer-supporter training) and the beginning of Year 9 (Time 2).

Results: Four hundred twenty-seven girls were recruited (95% recruitment rate). 55 girls consented to be a peer-supporter and 53 peer-supporters were trained (97% of those invited). Accelerometer return rates exceeded 85% at each time point and wear time criteria was met by 83%, 71% and 62% participants at Time 0, 1 and 2 respectively. Questionnaire data were provided by >91% of participants at each time point. Complete-case adjusted linear regression analysis showed evidence of a 6.09 minute (95% CI = 1.43, 10.76) between-arms difference in weekday MVPA at Time 2 in favour of the intervention arm. On average PLAN-A cost £2685 per school to deliver (£37 per Year 8 girl). There were no adverse events. A trial involving 20 schools would be adequately powered to detect a between-arms difference in weekday MVPA of at least six minutes.

Conclusions: The PLAN-A intervention adopts a novel peer-led approach, is feasible, and shows evidence of promise to positively affect girls' physical activity levels. A definitive trial is warranted.

Trial registration: ISCTRN, ISRCTN12543546, Registered on 28/7/2015, URL of registry record:

Keywords: Adolescent girls; Intervention; Peers; Physical activity; School.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Exercise*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Peer Group*
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • School Health Services*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN12543546