About the project

Phase 1 – Pilot Study

In this phase of the study we worked with Year 8 girls in one Wiltshire school. We held four focus groups with the girls to get feedback on different of elements of the study, so we could make the final programme and accompanying materials as relevant as possible for the participants. The girls helped us to develop and refine many elements of the programme, including: the training days, selecting the logo, using appropriate language, telling us what is important to them, and many more things. The information we got from this phase has been essential to the content and design of phase 2.

Phase 2 – Feasibility Study

Phase 2 was the main part of the PLAN-A study. Six schools agreed to take part in this phase. Four of these schools were randomly chosen to run the PLAN-A programme for ten weeks, these were 'project schools'. The other two schools acted as 'comparison schools', meaning they carried on as normal and did not receive the programme. This allowed us to work out whether PLAN-A had any effect on the girls taking part.

Year 8 girls in all six schools provided information ('data') at three different time points; before the schools were chosen to be a project or comparison schools (between September and November 2015), straight after the ten-week project (around Easter 2016), and one year after the first data collection (September – November 2016). We are mainly interested in finding out whether we can recruit girls into the project and whether the data collection, peer nomination and peer-supporter training, and ten week informal discussion periods are successful.

During the data collection process, we measured the girls' activity levels using activity monitors (accelerometers) which they wore for seven days and we measured their motivation for being active using questionnaires.? ?

In September 2015, we asked all Year 8 girls taking part in the study to select the most influential girls in their year group. In the four 'project schools', we then calculated the top 18 per cent of girls who were nominated and invited them to take part in the PLAN-A training to become a peer-supporter. The training took place in February 2016 and gave the peer-supporters the skills, knowledge and confidence to go back into school and spread informal messages amongst their peers about being more active. Half-way through the ten-week period the peer-supporters went on a top-up training day to refresh them on the importance of being active and how to communicate this to their friends.

Following the intervention we conducted interviews and focus groups with the trainers, peer-supporters, girls who were not peer-supporters, parents, and teachers at school to find out what was successful and what could be improved for the future. The analysis of this data is complete and is currently being written up alongside other numerical data we collected. We are now doing focus groups with girls from the two 'comparison schools' to improve our data collection process and to see whether the girls from these schools heard about PLAN-A and might have changed their behaviour as a result (if there was 'contamination').

Current status

The PLAN-A intervention has now come to an end and all girls taking part have completed the third and final stage of data collection. The team are in the last stages of analysing the data. The results from the study will give us the information we need to decide whether or not a peer-led project to increase adolescent girls' physical activity is worth testing in a larger study. The team have met with the Trial Steering Committee (made up of experts in the area) and we are deciding what we should do next. Findings will be written up and made available to all stakeholders involved near summer 2017.

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