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If you don’t focus on long-term behaviour change you don’t get long-term behaviour change

If all that we do is to get large numbers of people to take part (e.g. Sportivate) but that doesn’t lead to long-term behaviour change then all we’re doing is spinning our wheels. We’ll have to start over with a new set of people the next time, and that’s why the traditional model of 12-weeks of free sessions costs over £500 per person more active 6 months after starting.

The approach that is most effective is to provide 12 months of behaviour change support. When NICE developed the PH49 guidance on behaviour change they examined 5 Randomized Control Trials which showed an increase in physical activity levels. As a result of what they learnt NICE guidelines recommend that “Providers and practitioners involved with behaviour change programmes and interventions should help people maintain their behaviour change in the long term (more than 1 year)” and that to do that you should provide “feedback and monitoring at regular intervals for a minimum of 1 year.”For the effect to be sustained at one year, the evidence says that several follow-up sessions are needed over a period of twelve months after initial sign-up or contact.

This is backed up by real world results as well.

Examples of where there’s no long-term follow up

Sportivate’s research shows that only 15% of people who take part are more active 6 months after starting.

Research from the British Heart Foundation’s National Centre for Physical activity and Loughborough University found that only 20% of people who are referred are more active 6 months after starting.

Examples of long-term follow up

In a campaign we’ve run in Chichester over 1000 over 65s have registered and we provided them with behaviour change support for 6 months. 64% of them were more active six months after registering, and they were active for 1 hours and 30 minutes more per week. 94% of participants have improved their mental wellbeing, and 88% are less socially isolated.

In Berkshire Macmillan are providing 12 months of behaviour change support to help cancer patients stay active, and 84% of people referred are more active 6 months after starting the programme than when they started, and on average they’re active for an extra 1 hour and 52 minutes per week which is an enormous amount. Partly as a result of this increased activity 78% of people have less pain and discomfort than at sign up, 30% have improved mobility, 57% are more able to perform their usual activities and 57% are less anxious or depressed.