Health4Life eHealth intervention to modify multiple lifestyle risk behaviours among adolescent students in Australia: a cluster-randomised controlled trial

Lancet Digit Health. 2023 May;5(5):e276-e287. doi: 10.1016/S2589-7500(23)00028-6. Epub 2023 Apr 7.


Background: Lifestyle risk behaviours are prevalent among adolescents and commonly co-occur, but current intervention approaches tend to focus on single risk behaviours. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of the eHealth intervention Health4Life in modifying six key lifestyle risk behaviours (ie, alcohol use, tobacco smoking, recreational screen time, physical inactivity, poor diet, and poor sleep, known as the Big 6) among adolescents.

Methods: We conducted a cluster-randomised controlled trial in secondary schools that had a minimum of 30 year 7 students, in three Australian states. A biostatistician randomly allocated schools (1:1) to Health4Life (a six-module, web-based programme and accompanying smartphone app) or an active control group (usual health education) with the Blockrand function in R, stratified by site and school gender composition. All students aged 11-13 years who were fluent in English and attended participating schools were eligible. Teachers, students, and researchers were not masked to allocation. Primary outcomes were alcohol use, tobacco use, recreational screen time, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), sugar-sweetened beverage intake, and sleep duration at 24 months, measured by self-report surveys, and analysed in all students who were eligible at baseline. Latent growth models estimated between-group change over time. This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12619000431123).

Findings: Between April 1, 2019, and Sept 27, 2019, we recruited 85 schools (9280 students), of which 71 schools with 6640 eligible students (36 schools [3610 students] assigned to the intervention and 35 [3030 students] to the control) completed the baseline survey. 14 schools were excluded from the final analysis or withdrew, mostly due to a lack of time. We found no between-group differences for alcohol use (odds ratio 1·24, 95% CI 0·58-2·64), smoking (1·68, 0·76-3·72), screen time (0·79, 0·59-1·06), MVPA (0·82, 0·62-1·09), sugar-sweetened beverage intake (1·02, 0·82-1·26), or sleep (0·91, 0·72-1·14) at 24 months. No adverse events were reported during this trial.

Interpretation: Health4Life was not effective in modifying risk behaviours. Our results provide new knowledge about eHealth multiple health behaviour change interventions. However, further research is needed to improve efficacy.

Funding: Paul Ramsay Foundation, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, and the US National Institutes of Health.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Risk-Taking
  • Students*
  • Telemedicine*
  • United States