- Funder: NIHR PHR
- Lead Applicant: Dr Simon Sebire
- Co-researchers: Prof Russ Jago; Prof Rona Campbell; Dr Ruth Kipping; Prof William Hollingworth; Dr Pete Blair; Prof Ronan Lyons; Sarah Bell
- Research staff: Dr Mark Edwards; Kate Banfield; Joe Matthews
- Research Centre: Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences
Being physically active is good for children’s physical and mental health. Few adolescent girls are active enough to get these health benefits and teenage girls face lots of barriers to being physically active. As children move into adolescence, friends’ opinions and activity levels become very influential on their beliefs about, and levels of, physical activity. If we can harness the power of peer-influences to have a positive impact on adolescent girls’ activity, then this could be a new way to inspire girls to become and stay active. We know that peer-led anti-smoking projects can reduce teen smoking rates. In these projects, teens nominate peers who they think are influential and who they respect, to be peer-supporters. These pupils then attend out-of-school training about smoking and then are asked to return to school for 10 weeks and have informal conversations with their peers to persuade them not to smoke or to quit. In the Plan A study we want to adapt this idea to develop a project to train girls to positively influence their friends’ physical activity.
Following a pilot study, Year 8 girls in all six schools will provide information at three times; before the schools are chosen to be project or comparison schools, straight after the 10-week project, and 1 year after the first measurements. 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 10-week informal discussion periods are successful.
We measure the girls’ activity levels using activity monitors and assess their motivation for being active using questionnaires. Following the intervention, we will conduct interviews and focus groups with peer-supporters, pupils, parents, and trainers to find out what was successful and what could be improved for the future.