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University of Bristol (2015-2017)

The PLAN-A (Peer-Led Physical Activity iNtervention for Adolescent girls) is a feasibility study of a school based peer-led intervention to address the observed decline and persistent low levels of physical activity amongst adolescent girls.  

The PLAN-A model was based on the ASSIST stop smoking trial.  

Phase 1 - Pilot Study

In this phase focus groups were held with Year 8 girls in one Wiltshire school. The girls helped develop and refine many elements of the programme, including: the training days, selecting the logo, using appropriate language, telling us what is important to them, and many more things. The information from this phase has been essential to the content and design of phase 2.

Phase 2 - Feasibility Study

Phase 2 was the main part of the PLAN-A study. Six schools took part this phase; three from Wiltshire and three from South Gloucestershire. Four of these schools were randomly chosen to run the PLAN-A programme for ten weeks, these were 'project schools'. The other two schools acted as 'comparison schools', meaning they carried on as normal and did not receive the programme. This allowed us to work out whether PLAN-A had any effect on the girls taking part.

In September 2015, all Year 8 girls taking part in the study were asked to select the most influential girls in their year group. In the four 'project schools', we then calculated the top 18 per cent of girls who were nominated and invited them to take part in the PLAN-A training to become a peer-supporter. The training took place in February 2016 and gave the peer-supporters the skills, knowledge and confidence to go back into school and spread informal messages amongst their peers about being more active. Half-way through the ten-week period the peer-supporters went on a top-up training day to refresh them on the importance of being active and how to communicate this to their friends.

At three different time points, the girls' activity levels were measured using activity monitors (accelerometers) which they wore for seven days and we measured their motivation for being active using questionnaires.​ ​

Local Advisory Group  (LAG)

During the project the LAG provided valuable advice on areas such as the delivery of the PLAN-A peer-supporter programme, supporting with peer-supporter training issues and any other school-related issues that might arise during the course of the intervention.

Its members included representatives from Wiltshire Council: Nick Bolton, Sarah Heathcote, Phoebi Kalungi, Katie Davies and Nancy Strickland from Devizes School. 

The Results 

427 girls participated, of which 55 became peer supporters. Attendance at the peer-supporter training sessions was very high across all four intervention schools. Peer supporters had a positive attitude towards the training, which they found interesting, engaging and pitched at the right level. They felt it helped them to prepare to go back to school and support their peers to be active.

PLAN-A showed evidence of promise to positively influence Year 8 girls' physical activity levels. Measurements taken at the third data collection, five months after the intervention, showed that girls in intervention schools performed 6.1 minutes more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and 23.3 minutes less sedentary time per weekday than girls in the control schools.      

The project also showed promise for cost effective delivery at £37 per girl or £2685 per school.

the results of this feasibility trial provides strong rationale to test the PLAN-A intervention on a larger scale in a definitive trial.    

Further information

The Plan-A website

Feasibility trial findings (Sept 2017) 

Getting girls active (June 2017)