Process evaluation of a pilot multi-component physical activity intervention - Active Schools: Skelmersdale

Sarah Taylor, Robert Noonan, Zoe Knowles, Michael Owen, Bronagh McGrane, Whitney Curry, Stuart Fairclough

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Background: Schools have been identified as key environments to promote child physical activity (PA). Implementation of multi-component PA interventions within schools is advocated but research has showed that they may not always be effective at increasing child PA. Results of the Active Schools: Skelmersdale (AS:Sk) multi-component pilot intervention indicated no significant positive change to child PA levels. Process evaluations can provide information on which aspects of an intervention were delivered and how. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to use a combination of methods to elicit child and teacher perceptions regarding the feasibility and acceptability of the AS:Sk intervention, alongside systematic researcher observations. The overarching study aim was to understand how schools implemented the AS:Sk intervention, with a specific focus on the frequency of intervention component implementation, and how the components were incorporated into the school day. Methods: The study generated five data sets. Data elicited from 18 participating children via a write draw, show and tell task included, frequency counts of most enjoyable intervention components, drawings, and verbatim data. Teacher verbatim data was collected from 3 interviews, and 18 researcher observations were recorded using field notes. The data sources were pooled to produce the themes presented in the results section. Results: The combination of data sources revealed four themes and 16 sub-themes. Implementation methods: how and when the components were implemented in schools. Child engagement: enjoyment and positive behaviour. Facilitators: peer influence, teacher influence, staggered implementation, incentives, rewards, challenges and competition, flexibility and adaptability, child ownership, routine. Barriers: time within an intense curriculum, space, sustaining child interest, parental support, school policies. Conclusions: This study revealed that teachers believed classroom based activities were most feasible and acceptable due to the reduced implementation barriers of sufficient time and space. In contrast, children reported that the activities outside of the classroom were preferred. Future school-based PA interventions should aim to achieve a balance between routine PA at a set time and PA that is flexible and adaptable. Further process evaluations of multicomponent school-based PA interventions are warranted to develop the limited evidence base.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1383
Early online date18 Dec 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Dec 2018


  • Physical activity
  • Schools
  • Process evaluation
  • Children Write draw show and tell Teachers


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