A cluster randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the 'Girls Active' intervention: a study protocol

C.L. Edwardson, D.M. Harrington, T. Yates, D.H. Bodicoat, K. Khunti, T. Gorely, L.B. Sherar, R.T. Edwards, C. Wright, K. Harrington, M.J. Davies

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Background: Despite the health benefits of physical activity, data from the UK suggest that a large proportion of adolescents do not meet the recommended levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). This is particularly evident in girls, who are less active than boys across all ages and may display a faster rate of decline in physical activity throughout adolescence. The 'Girls Active' intervention has been designed by the Youth Sport Trust to target the lower participation rates observed in adolescent girls. 'Girls Active' uses peer leadership and marketing to empower girls to influence decision making in their school, develop as role models and promote physical activity to other girls. Schools are provided with training and resources to review their physical activity, sport and PE provision, culture and practices to ensure they are relevant and attractive to adolescent girls. Methods/Design: This study is a two-arm cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) aiming to recruit 20 secondary schools. Clusters will be randomised at the school level (stratified by school size and proportion of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) pupils) to receive either the 'Girls Active' intervention or carry on with usual practice (1:1). The 20 secondary schools will be recruited from state secondary schools within the Midlands area. We aim to recruit 80 girls aged 11-14 years in each school. Data will be collected at three time points; baseline and seven and 14 months after baseline. Our primary aim is to investigate whether 'Girls Active' leads to higher objectively measured (GENEActiv) moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in adolescent girls at 14 months after baseline assessment compared to the control group. Secondary outcomes include other objectively measured physical activity variables, adiposity, physical activity-related psychological factors and the cost-effectiveness of the 'Girls Active' intervention. A thorough process evaluation will be conducted during the course of the intervention delivery. Discussion: The findings of this study will provide valuable information on whether this type of school-based approach to increasing physical activity in adolescent girls is both effective and cost-effective in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2015


  • accelerometer
  • adolescent
  • cost-effectiveness
  • girls
  • intervention
  • peers
  • physical activity
  • child
  • cluster analysis
  • controlled study
  • cost benefit analysis
  • economics
  • exercise
  • female
  • Great Britain
  • health promotion
  • human
  • methodology
  • obesity
  • outcome assessment
  • peer group
  • randomized controlled trial
  • school
  • sport
  • standards


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