Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
Taking part in physical activity, such as sports, is known to benefit children’s mental health. Physical activity can help build social skills, self-esteem and positive well-being, and is linked to higher achievement at school. Unfortunately, many children and young people do not exercise enough. Physical inactivity is a growing problem in children, and it can affect their well-being, physical and mental health. Various school-based methods to increase physical activity among children have been effective in increasing activity and/or preventing inactivity. However, which aspects of these methods work best is not known, and there is no standard guideline for promoting physical activity in schools. There is also a need to see how best to promote and improve the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. The aim of this study is to develop a school-based physical activity programme which also works to improve mental health and well-being among schoolchildren aged 9-12.
Who can participate?
Children aged 9-12 (4-6th grade) attending participating schools.
What does the study involve?
Participating schools are randomly allocated into one of two groups. Those in group 1 (intervention group) have physical activity programme training for key staff to deliver to participating children. Those in group 2 (control group) have no physical activity programme training for key staff, but are given the opportunity to have this training at the end of the study. All participating children complete online questionnaires at the beginning and end of the school year.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Children and young people taking part in the study may benefit from participating in a number of ways. For example, physical activity has been shown to improve the mental health of children. There is a minor risk of sustaining injuries when taking part in the intervention components, such as sports.
Where is the study run from?
University of Southern Denmark (Denmark)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
February 2014 to March 2017
Who is funding the study?
Who is the main contact?
Associate Prof T Skovgaard
Associate Professor Thomas Skovgaard
Improving the well-being of children and youth: a multicomponent school-based physical activity intervention
A multicomponent school-based physical activity intervention will improve psychosocial well-being among school-aged children and youth (4th to 6th grade, 9-12 years).
Conforming to current legislation, the project was submitted to The Regional Scientific Ethical Committees for Southern Denmark. The committee decided that the project was exempt from the obligation to notify. Notification of this decision was forwarded via email 02/04/2014.
A four phased intervention:
1. Design phase consolidating the rationale for the intervention, the likely processes of change and further provision of evidence for proposed interventions (February 2014-July 2014).
2. Pilot phase including assessments of how the proposed intervention can be adapted to the school-setting. This entails systematic appraisals of sustainable ways to deliver the in-tervention as prescribed, and examining the key uncertainties that have been identified during the design phase. In the pilot intervention components will be tested to ensure that they are feasible to implement and deemed effective in relation to short-term and/or final outcomes. 4 schools take part in the pilot test (August 2014-April 2015).
3. Cluster randomized controlled trial in order to rigorously test the effectiveness of the full-scale, piloted intervention. 24 schools located in seven of the 98 Danish municipalities have been recruited as intervention or control units. The intervention period will cover a whole school year (August 2015-June 2016).
4. Program evaluation phase assessing the overall quality of the intervention and aiding decision-making about intervention improvement and potential for scaling-up. The program evaluation will combine qualitative and quantitative methods, and be designed to gather valid information on key processes and outcomes.
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Cluster randomised trial
Quality of life
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet.
Well-being and self-concept
Participating schools will be randomly allocated to either the intervention group or the control group. The control group will be given the opportunity to implement the intervention one year later. Baseline measurements are conducted in the beginning of a school year, followed by final assessment in the end of the school year for all participating schools The intervention involves:
1. Establishment of a coordination group: at each participating school a group consisting of key stakeholders (teachers, principals and student representatives) is assembled in order to establish a foundation for the intervention.
2. Competence development program (CDP) for educators: CDP will train enrolled educators to support student motivation and participation in school-based PA. The CDP will also provide attendees with up-to-date knowledge on topics closely related to PA and psychosocial well-being (support proficiencies and motivate colleagues to take part).
3. Activities and materials for PE, recess and other parts of the curricular: initiate activities during the school day. These activities are aimed at all children and conducted during PE, recess and other parts of the curriculum and school day.
4. Targeted program for children with special needs/challenges: informed by the model of school change developed by the World Health Organisation and used in a number of mental health intervention projects. It uses a whole-school approach while being aware of students with special needs.
Primary outcome measures
Physical self-perception measured using the Children’s Physical Self-Perception Profile (C-PSPP) and the Self-Perception Profile for children (SPPC) . Measurements are carried out 08/2015 and 06/2015 by online survey.
Secondary outcome measures
Measured in 08/2015 and 06/2016 by online survey:
1. General well-being (Kidscreen-27)
2. Physical Activity Self-Efficacy Scale (PASES)
3. Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (S-PACES)
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Participant inclusion criteria
Children aged 9-12 (4-6th grade) attending public school.
Target number of participants
24 schools with approximately 1600-1800 participants.
Participant exclusion criteria
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
University of Southern Denmark
Exercise Epidemiology (ExE)/Research in Childhood Health (RICH)/Active Living (AL) Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics (ISSCB)
University of Southern Denmark
Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics (ISSCB)
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
As a scientific research program, results will be published in peer‐reviewed journals. However, as a program bridging research and practice in real life contexts, other channels of communication are highly relevant. These may include local, national and international journals, newsletters and websites. Scientific and professional organizations in areas related to well‐being, health promotion, physical activity and/or the school sector will be contacted and joint workshops will be encouraged to include multidisciplinary approaches. The first preliminary dissemination activities include a presentation at a scientific conference (Sport & Society, 2015) in Toronto, Canada July 2015 followed by the first article submission in the same month. In the last part of 2015 2-3 articles are planned to be published in a national popular science magazine.
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not provided at time of registration
Results - basic reporting