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Non-digital support for maintaining physical activity in people with long-term conditions – within Maintenance Of physical acTivity beHaviour

Joint Lead: Professor Maria Stokes and Professor Suzanne McDonough.

Co Applicants: Dr Paul Clarkson, Dr Chloe Grimmett, Dr Euan Sadler, Dr Nisreen Alwan, Dr Aoife Stephenson, Dr Kat Bradbury, Dr James Faulkner, Paul Muckelt, Dr Dorit Kunkel.

Partners: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Versus Arthritis, Sport England, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, University of Winchester.

Lay Summary

Being active is important to prevent and help manage long-term conditions (LTC). Previous research shows that being active can help people to do the things that they want to do for longer, reduce pain and improve quality of life. There are many community and NHS programmes that help people with a LTC to start being active, however, these programmes only last for a short period of time.

Staying active in the longer-term is more difficult and there is often a decrease in activity over time following the completion of a programme or service. Previous research has shown that programmes or interventions that help people to start being active may not necessarily have the right components to help people to stay active.

This project will plan and develop a new intervention that will support people with one or more LTCs to stay active after completing NHS and/or third sector exercise referral schemes (ERSs). Our current research explores factors that help people with LTCs to stay active to allow these to be integrated into plans for the new intervention. The intervention will be non-digital to ensure that it is available to as many people as possible, regardless of access to the internet or a digital device. We know from previous work that it is important that any new intervention fits in with healthcare systems and how people manage their condition. We are therefore currently working with people with LTCs and healthcare professionals to understand how such an intervention could be delivered in practice.

In this project we will use previously gathered information to plan the new service. We will recruit people with LTCs from ERSs to take part in interviews to understand their needs and expectations for the intervention. We will also undertake interviews with healthcare professionals and ERS practitioners to develop the intervention’s content. This will allow us to develop the prototype of the intervention and then ask people with LTCs or people who have come to the end of an NHS and/or third sector ERS to pilot it and provide feedback through interviews. Once developed, we will plan a larger study to test the intervention’s potential with groups of people who have come to the end of an ERS in the NHS and/or the third sector. This study will help us to gain feedback from people with LTCs using the intervention in real life settings to make further changes. It will also help us to understand whether the approaches to the research, such as how to recruit people to take part, are successful. This information will be used to improve the intervention and to support a larger trial to assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the intervention