Comparing motivational, self-regulatory and habitual processes in a computer-tailored physical activity intervention in hospital employees - Protocol for the PATHS randomised controlled trial
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Background: Most people do not engage in sufficient physical activity to confer health benefits and to reduce risk of chronic disease. Healthcare professionals frequently provide guidance on physical activity, but often do not meet guideline levels of physical activity themselves. The main objective of this study is to develop and test the efficacy of a tailored intervention to increase healthcare professionals' physical activity participation and quality of life, and to reduce work-related stress and absenteeism. This is the first study to compare the additive effects of three forms of a tailored intervention using different techniques from behavioural theory, which differ according to their focus on motivational, self-regulatory and/or habitual processes. Methods/Design: Healthcare professionals (N = 192) will be recruited from four hospitals in Perth, Western Australia, via email lists, leaflets, and posters to participate in the four group randomised controlled trial. Participants will be randomised to one of four conditions: (1) education only (non-tailored information only), (2) education plus intervention components to enhance motivation, (3) education plus components to enhance motivation and self-regulation, and (4) education plus components to enhance motivation, self-regulation and habit formation. All intervention groups will receive a computer-tailored intervention administered via a web-based platform and will receive supporting text-messages containing tailored information, prompts and feedback relevant to each condition. All outcomes will be assessed at baseline, and at 3-month follow-up. The primary outcome assessed in this study is physical activity measured using activity monitors. Secondary outcomes include: quality of life, stress, anxiety, sleep, and absenteeism. Website engagement, retention, preferences and intervention fidelity will also be evaluated as well as potential mediators and moderators of intervention effect. Discussion: This is the first study to examine a tailored, technology-supported intervention aiming to increase physical activity in healthcare professionals. The study will evaluate whether including additional theory-based behaviour change techniques aimed at promoting motivation, self-regulation and habit will lead to increased physical activity participation relative to information alone. The online platform developed in this study has potential to deliver efficient, scalable and personally-relevant intervention that can be translated to other occupational settings. Trial registration: Australian New-Zealand Clinical Trial Registry: ACTRN12616000462482, submitted 29/03/2016, prospectively registered 8/04/2016.
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