A randomised controlled trial of an augmented exercise referral scheme using web-based behavioural support for inactive adults with chronic health conditions: the e-coachER tria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Adrian Taylor
  • Rod S Taylor
  • Wendy Ingram
  • Sarah Gerard Dean
  • Nanette Mutrie
  • Jeff Lambert
  • Lucy Yardley
  • Adam Streeter
  • Chloe McAdam
  • Lisa Price
  • Nana Kwame Anokye
  • John Campbell

External organisations

  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Exeter
  • Brunel University
  • University of Plymouth
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Bath
  • University of Glasgow


Objective: To determine whether adding web-based support (e-coachER) to an exercise referral scheme (ERS) increases objectively assessed physical activity (PA).

Design: Multicentre trial with participants randomised to usual ERS alone (control) or usual ERS plus e-coachER (intervention).

Setting: Primary care and ERS in 3 UK sites from 2015- 2018.

Participants: 450 inactive ERS referees with chronic health conditions.

Interventions: Participants received a pedometer, PA recording sheets, and a User Guide for the web-based support. e-coachER interactively encouraged the use of the ERS and other PA options.

Main outcome measures: Primary and key secondary outcomes were: objective moderate-to vigorous PA (MVPA) minutes (in ≥10 minute bouts and without bouts), respectively, after 12 months.

Secondary outcomes were: other accelerometer-derived and self-reported PA measures, ERS attendance, EQ-5D-5L, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and beliefs about PA. All outcomes were collected at baseline, 4 and 12 months. Primary analysis was an intention to treat comparison
between intervention and control arms at 12 months follow-up.

Results: There was no significant effect of the intervention on weekly MVPA at 12 months between the groups recorded in ≥10 minute bouts (mean difference 11.8 minutes of MVPA, 95% CI -2.1 to 26.0; p=0.10) or without bouts (mean difference 13.7 minutes of MVPA, 95% CI -26.8 to 54.2;
p=0.51) for 232 participants with usable data. There was no difference in the primary or secondary PA outcomes at 4 or 12 months.

Conclusion: Augmenting ERS referrals with web-based behavioural support had only a weak, non significant effect on MVPA.

Trial registration: ISRCTN15644451


Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Early online date27 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2020