Impact of Personalised Feedback about Physical Activity on Change in Objectively Measured Physical Activity (the FAB Study): A Randomised Controlled Trial

Background

Low levels of physical activity are a major public health concern, and interventions to promote physical activity have had limited success. Whether or not personalised feedback about physical activity following objective measurement motivates behaviour change has yet to be rigorously examined.

Methods

And Findings: In a parallel group, open randomised controlled trial, 466 healthy adults aged 32 to 54 years were recruited from the ongoing population-based Fenland Study (Cambridgeshire, UK). Participants were randomised to receive either no feedback until the end of the trial (control group, n=120) or one of three different types of feedback: simple, visual, or contextualised (intervention groups, n=346). The primary outcome was physical activity (physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) in kJ/kg/day and average body acceleration (ACC) in m/s2) measured objectively using a combined heart rate monitor and accelerometer (Actiheart®). The main secondary outcomes included self-reported physical activity, intention to increase physical activity, and awareness of physical activity (the agreement between self-rated and objectively measured physical activity). At 8 weeks, 391 (83.9%) participants had complete physical activity data. The intervention had no effect on objectively measured physical activity (PAEE: β=-0.92, 95% CI=-3.50 to 1.66, p=0.48 and ACC: β=0.01, 95% CI=-0.00 to 0.02, p=0.21), self-reported physical activity (β=-0.39, 95% CI=-1.59 to 0.81), or intention to increase physical activity (β=-0.05, 95% CI=-0.22 to 0.11). However, it was associated with an increase in awareness of physical activity (OR=1.74, 95% CI=1.05 to 2.89). Results did not differ according to the type of feedback.

Conclusions

Personalised feedback about physical activity following objective measurement increased awareness but did not result in changes in physical activity in the short term. Measurement and feedback may have a role in promoting behaviour change but are ineffective on their own.

Trial Registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN92551397 http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN92551397