Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
People whose job primarily involves desk-based work spend a large proportion of their day sitting down at work and many of these individuals also sit a lot when they are at home. High levels of sitting have been linked to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. This makes office workers an ‘at-risk’ group and who should be targeted for lifestyle intervention. An intervention has been developed called SMArT Work & Life that is designed to reduce the time that office workers spend sitting both inside and outside of work, emphasising a ‘whole-of-day’ preventive approach. Previous interventions have only focused on sitting at work. The SMArT Work & Life intervention involves multiple strategies to encourage a reduction in sitting time both in and out of the workplace, including strategies at the organisational level (e.g., provision for standing meetings, competitions), environmental level (e.g., relocating waste bins, printers) and group/individual level (education, goal setting, progress sessions, technology to track and provide feedback on their own sitting time). Workplace champions within local councils will deliver some of these strategies. This intervention will be delivered with and without the provision of a height adjustable workstation (allows the user to either stand or sit to work). This is important because although previous studies have achieved substantial reductions in workplace sitting, there are cost implications associated with these workstations so it is also important to also evaluate the impact of the intervention without this resource. The aim of this study is to test how effective the SMArT Work & Life intervention is, with and without a height-adjustable workstation.
Who can participate?
Office workers at local councils in Leicester and Manchester (UK)
What does the study involve?
Participating office groups are randomly allocated to one of three groups. One third of the office groups receive the intervention and a height-adjustable workstation, one third receive the intervention without a height-adjustable workstation, and one third act as a comparison group (carry on as normal). The research team measure how much office workers sit during the day (inside and outside of work) using a physical activity device worn on the thigh for 7 days. This monitor also provides an accurate measure of daily steps taken, time standing, and time being active. A number of measures of health are also taken, including weight, body fat, waist circumference, blood pressure, and a finger prick blood sample to analyse levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. Participants are asked to answer some questions about their health and work. These measurements are taken from all participants before the intervention begins and again at 3, 12 and 24 months after the first set of measurements. No interventions targeting sitting have followed participants over this length of time before. This will show whether participants maintain any behaviour change over the long term. The research team also talk to a number of office workers and workplace champions throughout the intervention delivery period about their experiences of the various strategies. The research team also test whether the intervention, with and without a height-adjustable desk, is value for money.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Benefits of taking part in this study include receiving feedback on health following a health assessment, receiving a £10 voucher for each assessment completed, and participants receiving intervention may experience health benefits and feel better. The research team are promoting regular posture change and not prolonged time in any one behaviour as this may lead to discomfort such as sore feet and lower back pain.
Where is the study run from?
University of Leicester (UK)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
January 2018 to March 2021
Who is funding the study?
NIHR Public Health Research Programme (UK)
Who is the main contact?
Dr Charlotte Edwardson
A three arm cluster randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the SMArT Work & Life intervention for reducing daily sitting time in office workers
SMArT Work & Life
This study aims to determine the long term effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the multi-component SMArT Work & Life intervention (when provided with and without a height-adjustable desk) for reducing daily sitting time in office workers compared with no intervention. If both interventions are shown to be effective, a secondary aim will be to determine if one intervention is more effective than the other.
College of Life Sciences University of Leicester - approval pending
Cluster randomised controlled trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Cluster randomised trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use the contact details to request a patient information sheet
General chronic disease prevention
Clusters (different office spaces) will be randomised to receive one of the following conditions:
1. The multi-component SMArT Work & Life intervention with a height-adjustable workstation (intervention group 1)
2. The multi-component SMArT Work & Life intervention without a height-adjustable workstation (intervention group 2)
3. Usual practice (control condition)
The SMArT Work & Life intervention is a multicomponent intervention promoting positive changes in sitting (at work and in leisure time) and movement in office workers. The intervention includes organisation (manager buy in, workshop for managers), environmental (small scale restructuring in the office and at home, display of posters/reminders at work and at home) and individual (action planning, goal setting, free apps and prompts) and group (education workshops, regular coaching, competitions (colleagues and family) based components.
The research team will measure how much office workers sit during the day (inside and outside of work) using a physical activity device worn on the thigh for 7 days. This monitor also provides an accurate measure of daily steps taken, time standing, and time being active. We will also take a number of measures of health including weight, body fat, waist circumference, blood pressure, and take a finger prick blood sample to analyse levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. Participants will be asked to complete some questions about their health and work. These measurements will be taken from all participants before the intervention begins, and again at 3, 12 and 24 months after the first set of measurements. No interventions targeting sitting have followed participants over this length of time before. This will allow the research team to assess whether participants maintain any behaviour change over the long term. They will also talk to a number of office workers and workplace champions throughout the intervention delivery period about their experiences of the various strategies. The research team will also test whether our intervention, with and without a height-adjustable desk, is value for money.
Primary outcome measure
Objectively measured sitting time, measured using activPAL at baseline, 3, 12 and 24 months
Secondary outcome measures
1. Objectively measured standing and movement, measured using activPAL and Axivity at baseline, 3, 12 and 24 months
2. Adiposity (BMI, percent body fat [measured with body composition scales], waist circumference), blood pressure and blood markers [HbA1c, cholesterol, triglycerides measured with finger prick blood samples]), measured at baseline, 3, 12 and 24 months
3. Fatigue (Fatigue Scale, Chalder 1993), stress (Perceived Stress Scale, Cohen et al 1983), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Zigmond et al, 1983), wellbeing (WHO-5 scale, Bech 1998), work engagement (Utretcht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) Schaufeli et al, 2002), job performance (single-item 7-point likert scale, Bond et al 2001) and satisfaction (single-item 7-point likert scale, Nagy, 2002), presenteeism (Work Limitations Questionnaire, Lerner et al, 2001), sickness absence (organisation records), and quality of life (EQ5D-5L, Herdman et al 2011), measured at baseline, 3, 12 and 24 months
4. Self-reported sleep (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Buysse et al 1989) and objectively measured sleep (Axivity), measured at baseline, 3, 12 and 24 months
5. Self-reported health resource use (for cost-effectiveness analysis), measured at baseline, 3, 12 and 24 months
6. Process evaluation: attendance at workshops and coaching (workplace champion logs), opinions of, and engagement with different intervention components (questionnaires and focus groups), intervention fidelity and receipt (workshop and coaching observations), barriers and facilitators (focus groups). These measures are ongoing throughout the study
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Office-based employees within the Councils in Leicester and Manchester
2. Spend the majority of their day sitting
3. They must also work for the council at least 3 days/week
4. Participant is willing and able to give informed consent to take part in the study
5. Able to walk without the use of an assistive device or requiring assistance form another person
Target number of participants
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Currently pregnant
2. Currently using a height-adjustable workstation at their primary work location
3. Unable to communicate in English
4. Unable to provide written informed consent
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Diabetes Research Centre (University of Leicester)
Public Health Research Programme
NIHR Public Health Research Programme, PHR
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
The full trial protocol will be published in 2018 in an open access journal. The main results paper will be published within one year of completing the trial.
IPD sharing statement
The data sharing plans for the current study are unknown and will be made available at a later date.
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
To be made available at a later date
Basic results (scientific)