Condition category
Nutritional, Metabolic, Endocrine
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
The internet and social media can be good way to influence a person's behaviour, and they can reach large numbers of people. Research has showed that setting goals, making plans and keeping track of how well they are doing is important when someone is trying to change their behaviour. The support of family, friends and others is also crucial in helping people to achieve and sustain behaviour change and a healthier lifestyle. We want to develop and test the feasibility of a programme (intervention) that will include goal setting, monitoring, and social support using both the internet and though text messaging to help large numbers of people to make long lasting behavioural changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Who can participate?
Adults aged 18-70, with a BMI of at least 30 and trying to lose weight. Participants need to have access to a mobile telephone and the internet.

What does the study involve?
The study has two stages. In stage 1, a development panel made up of members of the public, IT specialists and behavior change experts work together to make sure the website and text messaging services are both useable and acceptable, how best to engage helpers and what sort of support from them might be the most useful. The intervention is then tested on other members of the public and focus groups and feedback collected via interview. For stage 2, participants are randomly allocated into one of two groups. Those in group 1 (the control group) are given a leaflet containing information on healthy diet and exercise. Those in group 2 (the intervention group) will be given access to the Helpmedoit! intervention (programme) for 6 months. Helpmetoit! Is a website that helps people to set goals and sign up their friends and family as 'helpers' to 'help them do it'. The helpers receive texts that asks them to offer encouragement and support to the person trying to achieve these goals. Both participants and helpers can track the participants progress and participants can update their information though the internet or by text. The results of this stage is used to decide whether it is worth testing the intervention in a large-scale study. Physical activity, diet, height, weight, waist circumference, health related quality of life, social support, motivation, mental health, NHS resource use and participant borne costs is assessed for each participant before the trial begins and after 12 months. At 12 months we also assess self esteem, blood pressure and cholesterol. Some participants and helpers are interviewed about their experience of the intervention after 6 months. We also investigate whether the intervention is likely to provide good value for money as it has the potential to reach a lot of people at a low cost.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
The study is low risk for participants. We will provide guidance to supporters to help them provide positive support and we will offer guidance to participants on healthy goal setting. The website and text messaging technology will be designed to protect the personal data of participants. All participants will have the opportunity of accessing the website and intervention which could potentially help them with weight loss. Intervention participants will be able to access it as soon as they enter the study and control participants will have access once the study is complete.

Where is the study run from?
The Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow (UK)

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
January 2014 to June 2017

Who is funding the study?
National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme (UK)

Who is the main contact?
Dr Sharon Simpson

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Sharon Simpson


Contact details

MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
University of Glasgow
200 Renfield Street
G2 3QB
United Kingdom

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number

v1.0 12/180/20

Study information

Scientific title

'Helpmedoit!' a web and text based intervention to facilitate social support to achieve and maintain health-related change in physical activity and dietary behaviour.


Study hypothesis

We aim to develop and test the feasibility of an intervention (Helpmedoit!) to promote health behaviour change employing three key facilitators: goal setting, monitoring by self and others, and social support. We will explore how web and SMS interventions might facilitate use of these techniques to enable large numbers of individuals to identify and monitor goals, to enlist social support to help them to achieve their goals and change behaviours.

Ethics approval

MVLS College Ethics Committee, 08/04/2015, 200140108

Study design

The proposed project has 2 stages: intervention development and piloting (stage 1) and exploratory trial and process evaluation (stage 2).

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type

Quality of life

Patient information sheet




Participants will be allocated to one of two groups, intervention or control:
1. The control group will be given a leaflet giving information on healthy diet and physical activity.
2. The Helpmedoit! intervention will consist of a website that will help people in the intervention group set a behaviour change goal and sign up friends or family as 'helpers' to 'help them do it'. These helpers will then be prompted by SMS (text) messaging to enthuse, support or commiserate and help the person to achieve their goal. The programme will allow monitoring of progress and celebration of goals achieved. The Helpmedoit! website will have 7 key elements supporting the intrapersonal and interpersonal elements of the intervention:
2.1. Support for goal setting and planning
2.2. Nominate your helper to identify goal-specific social support group
2.3. Obtain agreement from nominated helper(s) to provide support
2.4. Helper-specific advice on how to provide effective support
2.5 'Track your progress' for monitoring
2.6. Behaviour specific information (including 'tips' and case stories)
2.7. The SMS, goal updates, support element of the intervention and forum

Intervention type



Drug names

Primary outcome measures

In stage 1 we will collect qualitative data on acceptability and feasibility using interviews and focus groups. In stage 2, although the primary focus is on feasibility and acceptability, we will assess different outcome measures for the main trial. So for the exploratory trial we will have 3 primary outcomes; physical activity, diet and BMI. We will assess which of these is most responsive and sensitive to change for the definitive trial.

Secondary outcome measures

Secondary outcomes include; waist circumference, social support, self efficacy, motivation, mental health, health related quality of life, blood pressure, cholesterol, use of NHS and participant borne costs. We will also conduct qualitative work with both participants and helpers to explore their experiences of the intervention.

At baseline we will collect demographic data including relevant medical conditions and we will assess (7 day PAR, accelerometer), diet (DINE, 4x repeat 24 hour multiple pass recall), height, weight, waist circumference, health related quality of life (EQ5D), social support (Exercise & Eating Habits Social Support Scales), self efficacy (Weight & Exercise Efficacy Lifestyle Scales), motivation (Treatment Self Regulation Questionnaire) mental health (GHQ12) and NHS resource use.

At 12 months - physical activity (7 day PAR, accelerometer), diet (DINE, 4x repeat 24 hour multiple pass recall), weight, waist circumference, health related quality of life (EQ5D), social support (Exercise & Eating Habits Social Support Scales), self efficacy (Weight & Exercise Efficacy Lifestyle Scales), motivation (Treatment Self Regulation Questionnaire) mental health (GHQ12) and NHS resource use, blood pressure and cholesterol using a validated non-invasive point-of-care test (Cholestech LDX) will be assessed.

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Adults aged 18-70
2. BMI 30+ and actively trying to lose weight
3. Access to a mobile telephone and the internet

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Previous bariatric surgery
2. Terminal illness
3. Dementia
4. Pregnancy
5. Poor competence in English (resulting in an ability to complete study materials)
6. Being a nominated helper in this trial
7. We will ask women of childbearing age to let us know if they become pregnant at any point during the trial. Once recruited, pregnant women will not be excluded from the study but will be given a leaflet on diet and exercising safely during pregnancy.

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
G2 3QB
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (UK)

Sponsor details

R&D Management Office
Tennent Institute
38 Church Street
G11 6NT
United Kingdom

Sponsor type

Hospital/treatment centre



Funder type


Funder name

National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme, Ref: 12/180/20 (UK)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes