Signage Interventions for Stair Climbing at Work: More than 700,000 Reasons for Caution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Departament de Ciències de l´Activitat Física, Centre d´Estudis Sanitaris i Socials, Universitat de Vic-Universitat Central de Catalunya, Barcelona, 08500 Vic, Spain.
  • Agència de Salut Pública de Catalunya, 08023 Barcelona, Spain.
  • Departament de Salut i Acció Social, Universitat de Vic-Universitat Central de Catalunya, Barcelona, 08500 Vic, Spain.


Increased stair climbing reduces cardiovascular disease risk. While signage interventions for workplace stair climbing offer a low-cost tool to improve population health, inconsistent effects of intervention occur. Pedestrian movement within the built environment has major effects on stair use, independent of any health initiative. This paper used pooled data from UK and Spanish workplaces to test the effects of signage interventions when pedestrian movement was controlled for in analyses. Automated counters measured stair and elevator usage at the ground floor throughout the working day. Signage interventions employed previously successful campaigns. In the UK, minute-by-minute stair/elevator choices measured effects of momentary pedestrian traffic at the choice-point (n = 426,605). In Spain, aggregated pedestrian traffic every 30 min measured effects for 'busyness' of the building (n = 293,300). Intervention effects on stair descent (3 of 4 analyses) were more frequent than effects on stair climbing, the behavior with proven health benefits (1 of 4 analyses). Any intervention effects were of small magnitude relative to the influence of pedestrian movement. Failure to control for pedestrian movement compromises any estimate for signage effectiveness. These pooled data provide limited evidence that signage interventions for stair climbing at work will enhance population health.


Original languageEnglish
Article number3782
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2019


  • stair climbing, stair descent, point-of-choice prompts, workplace, pedestrian movement, lifestyle physical activity

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