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Objective - Accelerometer

432. Point-of-Choice Prompts to Reduce Sitting Time at Work

Research Article
Rhian E. Evans, Henrietta O. Fawole, Stephanie A. Sheriff, Philippa M. Dall, P. Margaret Grant, Cormac G. Ryan
September 2012

Commentary: Bethany Walker, National Heart Foundation

Previous studies in the workplace have reported on increasing physical activity to decrease sitting time. However, sedentary behaviour, independent of physical activity, is increasingly considered a likely risk factor for adverse health outcomes. This is the first study recorded to determine the outcome of an intervention designed to reduce sedentary behaviour in the workplace. It examines the effectiveness of point-of-choice (PoC) prompting software on decreasing uninterrupted sitting time and overall sedentary time at work.

This randomised trial compared two groups of adults working in the same office; the education-only group (n=14) and the PoC group (n=14). The education-only group received an education session on the effects of prolonged sitting whilst the PoC group received the same education session plus half hourly computer prompts which reminded them to take a 1-minute break every 30 minutes. Participant’s activity levels were monitored using activPAL, a device worn on the thigh to record time spent sitting/lying, standing and walking. The activPAL combines an accelerometer with an inclinometer – a measure of the plane in which the device is – this enables it, for example, to differentiate sitting from standing very still. Participants were recorded over 5 consecutive working days.

At baseline participants spent 76% ± 9% of their work day sedentary and of this time 3.3 ± 1.3 hours/day was spent sitting in 3.7 ± 1.4 periods > 30 minutes. While results indicated there was no difference recorded between groups of total time spent sitting; results did reveal the PoC group recorded reduced number (-0.11 events/hour) and duration (-12.2%) of sitting periods > 30 minutes. 

PoC prompts on workplace computers which reminded workers to stand every 30 minutes decreased uninterrupted sitting periods compared to education-only sessions. These results provide some evidence for future health promotion programs particularly given the health risks associated with prolonged sitting. Further research is recommended using a larger sample size over a longer period of time. Source: American Journal of Preventative Medicine 2012, 43: 293-297.  Access to this article will depend on your institutional rights.  Click here to access the full article.