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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Acceptability and feasibility of a low-cost, theory-based and co-produced intervention to reduce workplace sitting time in desk-based university employees

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Kelly Mackenzie, Elizabeth Goyder, Francis Eves
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

All the authors declare that they have no competing interest.

Authors’ contributions

KM conceived the study idea, designed the intervention trial and procedures, collected and analysed data, and drafted the manuscript. All of this was in fulfilment of the requirements for KM’s Masters in Public Health dissertation project. EG was the main supervisor of this dissertation project providing essential support particularly relating to the developing the aim of the study, the methods used, the type of analysis conducted and the writing-up of the original report. FE supplied some of the evidence-based prompts, that he had been involved in the design and trialling of, which were used as part of the final intervention. FE also provided intellectual knowledge relating to the use of prompts and contributed particularly to the critique of the evidence-base relating to point-of-decision prompts. Both EG and FE contributed to the design of the study, providing important advice and support to KM throughout the study period. EG and FE helped to revise the drafted manuscript by providing important critiques on both the content and the style of the final manuscript. All authors edited the manuscript, and read and approved the final submission. All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

Authors’ information

KM carried out this trial to fulfil the requirements for a Masters in Public Health dissertation project (completed at ScHARR, University of Sheffield); as a result there was no specific funding for this trial. KM is a Specialty Registrar in Public Health currently planning to apply for a Doctoral Research Fellowship to build on the work presented here.



Prolonged sedentary time is linked with poor health, independent of physical activity levels. Workplace sitting significantly contributes to sedentary time, but there is limited research evaluating low-cost interventions targeting reductions in workplace sitting. Current evidence supports the use of multi-modal interventions developed using participative approaches. This study aimed to explore the acceptability and feasibility of a low-cost, co-produced, multi-modal intervention to reduce workplace sitting.


The intervention was developed with eleven volunteers from a large university department in the UK using participative approaches and “brainstorming” techniques. Main components of the intervention included: emails suggesting ways to “sit less” e.g. walking and standing meetings; free reminder software to install onto computers; social media to increase awareness; workplace champions; management support; and point-of-decision prompts e.g. by lifts encouraging stair use. All staff (n = 317) were invited to take part. Seventeen participated in all aspects of the evaluation, completing pre- and post-intervention sitting logs and questionnaires. The intervention was delivered over four weeks from 7th July to 3rd August 2014.
Pre- and post-intervention difference in daily workplace sitting time was presented as a mean ± standard deviation. Questionnaires were used to establish awareness of the intervention and its various elements, and to collect qualitative data regarding intervention acceptability and feasibility.


Mean baseline sitting time of 440 min/workday was reported with a mean reduction of 26 ± 54 min/workday post-intervention (n = 17, 95 % CI = −2 to 53). All participants were aware of the intervention as a whole, although there was a range of awareness for individual elements of the intervention. The intervention was generally felt to be both acceptable and feasible. Management support was perceived to be a strength, whilst specific strategies that were encouraged, including walking and standing meetings, received mixed feedback.


This small-scale pilot provides encouragement for the acceptability and feasibility of low-cost, multi-modal interventions to reduce workplace sitting in UK settings. Evaluation of this intervention provides useful information to support participatory approaches during intervention development and the potential for more sustainable low-cost interventions. Findings may be limited in terms of generalisability as this pilot was carried out within a health-related academic setting.
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