Feasibility and preliminary effects of a peer-led motivationally-embellished workplace walking intervention: a pilot cluster randomized trial (the START trial)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • C. Thøgersen-ntoumani
  • B. S. Smith
  • J. Nicholas
  • J. Mcveigh
  • E. Stamatakis
  • S. Parker
  • G. Pereira
  • D. F. Gucciardi

Colleges, School and Institutes


Walking interventions can be effective in increasing physical activity amongst physically inactive employees. However, despite their promising potential regarding sustainability and scalability, peer-led workplace walking interventions have not been tested. We evaluated a peer-led workplace group walking intervention designed to engage physically inactive employees. A 16-week pilot cluster randomized controlled trial consisted of enhanced (5 worksites; n = 50 participants) and minimal treatment (3 worksites; n = 47) conditions. All participants were provided with a Fitbit Zip and information on health benefits of walking. Enhanced treatment participants had access to a mobile phone app incorporating behavior change techniques, were trained on principles of autonomous motivation, and had a peer leader trained in a motivationally supportive communication style. Feasibility assessments included recruitment and drop-out rates, assessment completion rates, training acceptability (walkers and peer leaders), and intervention acceptability (walkers only). Outcomes assessed included movement-related behaviors (assessed via activPAL devices), cardio-metabolic risk factors, motivation to walk, and well-being, and these measures were taken at baseline and post-intervention. The results supported intervention feasibility. Preliminary efficacy evidence was mixed. Markers of cardio-metabolic risk improved in the enhanced treatment only. Autonomous motivation increased in both conditions. There were no changes in step counts, standing, and sitting time, or well-being. Further fine tuning is needed before a definitive RCT.

Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12618000807257.


Original languageEnglish
Article number105969
Number of pages12
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
Early online date28 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • peer leader, motivational training, self-determination theory, physical activity