Quantity and specificity of action-plans as predictors of weight loss: analysis of data from the Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study (NDPS)

Nikki J. Garner, Jane R. Smith, Mike J. Sampson, Colin J. Greaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Investigate associations between quantity, content and specificity of action-plans and weight loss in a diabetes prevention study. Design: Prospective cohort study nested within a randomised controlled trial. Participants completed action-planning worksheets during intervention sessions. Main outcome measures: Action-plans were coded in terms of: number of plans set, their content, and specificity. Multivariate regression analyses assessed associations with weight loss at four-months. Results: 890 planning-worksheets from 106 participants were analysed. Participants wrote a mean of 2.12 (SD = 1.20) action-plans per worksheet, using a mean of 2.20 (SD = 0.68) specificity components per action-plan. Quantity of action-plans per worksheet decreased over time (r = −0.137, p < 0.001) and increased quantity was associated with reduced specificity [r = −.215, p < 0.001]. Walking (34.9% of action-plans) and reducing high fat/sugar snacks (26.1%) were the most commonly planned lifestyle actions. In multivariate modelling, increased quantity of action-plans was associated with greater weight loss (R2 = 0.135, Unstandardised Beta = 0.144, p = 0.002). Specificity was not significantly associated with weight-loss (p = 0.096). Conclusion: Producing more action-plans was associated with greater weight loss. Further research should directly compare more versus less specific action-plans and explore ways to sustain engagement in action-planning. Our findings imply that participants should freely set numerous action-plans, rather than being encouraged to focus on specificity Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2022.2055026.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology & Health
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The funder of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report. The corresponding author had full access to all the data in the study and had final responsibility for the decision to submit. This work was funded by National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grant NIHR RP-PG-0109-10013. This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under the Programme Grants for Applied Research programme. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Action planning
  • quantity
  • specificity
  • type 2 diabetes
  • weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantity and specificity of action-plans as predictors of weight loss: analysis of data from the Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study (NDPS)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this