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  • Jemma Hawkings
    Cardiff University
  • Michelle Edwards
    Cardiff University
  • Joanna Charles
  • Russell Jago
    University of Bristol
  • Mark Kelson
    Cardiff University
  • Kelly Morgan
    Cardiff University
  • Simon Murphy
    Cardiff University
  • Emily Oliver
    Durham University
  • Sharon Simpson
    University of Glasgow
  • Rhiannon Edwards
  • Graham Moore
    Cardiff University
Background
Exercise referral schemes are recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for physical activity promotion among inactive patients with health conditions or risk factors. Whilst there is evidence for the initial effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of such schemes for increasing physical activity, evidence of long-term effects is limited. Techniques such as goal setting, self-monitoring and personalised feedback may support motivation for physical activity. Technologies such as activity monitoring devices provide an opportunity to enhance delivery of motivational techniques. This paper describes the PACERS study protocol, which aims to assess the feasibility and acceptability of implementing an activity monitor within the existing Welsh National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) and proposed evaluation methodology for a full-scale randomised controlled trial.

Methods/design
The PACERS study consists of a pilot randomised controlled trial, process evaluation and exploratory economic analyses. Participants will be recruited from the generic pathway of the Welsh NERS and will be randomly assigned to receive the intervention or usual practice. Usual practice is a 16-week structured exercise programme; the intervention consists of an accelerometry-based activity monitor (MyWellnessKey) and an associated web platform (MyWellnessCloud). The primary outcomes are predefined progression criteria assessing the acceptability and feasibility of the intervention and feasibility of the proposed evaluation methodology. Postal questionnaires will be completed at baseline (time 0: T0), 16 weeks after T0 (T1) and 12 months after T0 (T2). Routinely collected data will also be accessed at the same time points. A sub-sample of intervention participants and exercise referral staff will be interviewed following initiation of intervention delivery and at the end of the study.

Discussion
The PACERS study seeks to assess the feasibility of adding a novel motivational component to an existing effective intervention in order to enhance effects on physical activity and support longer-term maintenance. The study will provide insight into the acceptability of activity-monitoring technologies to an exercise referral population and delivery staff. Data from this study will be used to determine whether and how to proceed to a full-scale trial of effectiveness of the intervention, including any necessary refinements to intervention implementation or the proposed evaluation methodology.

Trial registration
ISRCTN85785652

Keywords

  • Exercise referral, Physical activity, Autonomous motivation, Feasibility studies, Accelerometer/try, Physical activity monitors, Physical activity trackers, Costs, Economic evaluation
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Volume3
Issue number51
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2017
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