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IDA: Implementing a Digital physical Activity intervention for older adults

Principal Investigator: Dr Kat Bradbury

Project team: Professor Helen Roberts, Dr Max Western, Dr Stephen Lim, Linda Du Preez, Fay Sibley, Dr Judith Joseph, Professor Lucy Yardley, Dr Chloe Grimmett, Dr Neil Langridge, Christian Brookes, Helen Fisher, Cynthia Russel, Asgar Electricwala, Tom Stokes, Professor Maria Stokes, Dr Paul Clarkson, Cherish Boxall, Dr Katherine Morton, Sara Bolton, Dr David Attwood.

Partners: Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust , Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Wessex AHSN, University of Southampton, NHS England, Energise Me, Active Partnerships, Live Longer Better.

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Lay Summary 

Many older adults are physically inactive and experience health problems which could be prevented/improved if they were to increase their activity. These problems are costly to individuals, the NHS and social care services. An effective support for increasing physical activity which is easy and cheap to deliver at scale is needed. Older adults are the fastest growing group using the web, so a digital tool could be a solution. In our previous work, we developed a website called ‘Active Lives’ which helps older adults to increase physical activity and maintain this long-term. Active Lives gives support with increasing moderate activity and strength and balance. Active Lives was developed with 59 older adults who were physically inactive and had multiple long-term conditions. The website is tailored to individuals needs and abilities. Our recent trial showed that Active Lives is safe and helped older adults to increase physical activity compared to a control group (who received usual care).

Active Lives is a promising tool that could be rolled-out at scale. However, there can be challenges to rolling out new digital tools. There have been some high-profile failures. There are also anxieties about whether the digital divide might widen inequalities if only some groups are engaged. We take these concerns seriously and therefore propose a project which aims to look at: 1) How many people can be reached with Active Lives. 2) Whether we are able to reach people from different backgrounds (e.g. education level, ethnicity). 3) How individuals use the website and whether they report increases in activity over time. All this data will be captured online through the website. Data will be monitored regularly to allow for adjustment to our approach to roll-out, to promote equality in who Active Lives reaches. We will also seek to understand barriers and facilitators to roll-out by interviewing those who implement Active Lives in practice. We have partnered with the Wessex Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), NHS colleagues and third sector organisations to prepare to roll-out Active Lives. Representatives from these organisations, plus three PPI representatives will form a key stakeholder group. This group will join our study steering group and input into both research decisions and implementing Active Lives in practice. Roll-out will begin in Wessex where we already have agreements in place. This will spread to other areas over time (likely beginning with London, Oxford, Kent, Surrey and Sussex whose AHSNs have already expressed interest) providing real benefit to patients and NHS/3rd sector organisations.  We will disseminate our findings through workshops with stakeholders, press releases in the media/social media, conferences, and an academic publication