Exploring the impact of a pilot physical activity intervention on youths with type 1 diabetes

Fiona Muirhead, Alison Kirk, Kenneth Robertson, Louise Wilkie, John J. Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


PURPOSE: Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is rising globally. Youths with T1D have poorer health and lower levels of physical activity (PA) than those without diabetes. The ActivPals study aimed to support youths with T1D to increase PA levels. The intervention incorporated a PA consultation, key behaviour change techniques and a wearable PA self-monitoring device. The aim of this study was to qualitatively explore the impact of the ActivPals pilot PA intervention on youths with T1D.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews with participants and one of their parents (N=16) were carried out between May and July 2016. Participants were recruited after delivery of the ActivPals 4- week intervention. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically using a six-stage iterative process. Codes were applied to data extracts in an inductive manner as recurring ideas, events or beliefs were identified.

RESULTS: Factors contributing to intervention effectiveness are presented as three main themes. Each main theme had two sub-themes. The themes were: 1) Intervention impact (sub themes: new ways to exercise and sustained exercise); 2) Intervention components (sub themes: behaviour change techniques and one to one consultation); and 3) Intervention technology (sub theme: barriers/issues and recommendations for future interventions). The ActivPals intervention had a positive impact on young people with Type 1 diabetes. Most notably, the PA consultation and behaviour change techniques were important for increasing PA levels. The intervention technology was seen as both a facilitator and a barrier to PA. Participants provided important feedback on the intervention. For example, role modelling and self-monitoring were seen as critical to the intervention and the wearable activity monitors were problematic and should be redesigned or an alternative used, for future work with this population.

CONCLUSION: This research will contribute to the development of evidence based, user informed and pragmatic interventions leading to healthier lifestyles in youths with T1D.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79
Number of pages1
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number55
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2017
EventAmerican College of Sports Medicine 64th Annual Meeting: 8th World Congress on Exercise is Medicine® and World Congress on the Basic Science of Exercise and the Brain - Colorado Convention Center, Denver, United States
Duration: 30 May 20173 Jun 2017


  • physical activity
  • exercise behaviour
  • type 1 diabetes


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