Scaling-up an efficacious school-based physical activity intervention: Study protocol for the 'Internet-based Professional Learning to help teachers support Activity in Youth' (iPLAY) cluster randomized controlled trial and scale-up implementation evaluation
Background: Despite the health benefits of regular physical activity, most children are insufficiently active. Schools are ideally placed to promote physical activity; however, many do not provide children with sufficient in-school activity or ensure they have the skills and motivation to be active beyond the school setting. The aim of this project is to modify, scale up and evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention previously shown to be efficacious in improving children's physical activity, fundamental movement skills and cardiorespiratory fitness. The 'Internet-based Professional Learning to help teachers support Activity in Youth' (iPLAY) study will focus largely on online delivery to enhance translational capacity. Methods/Design: The intervention will be implemented at school and teacher levels, and will include six components: (i) quality physical education and school sport, (ii) classroom movement breaks, (iii) physically active homework, (iv) active playgrounds, (v) community physical activity links and (vi) parent/caregiver engagement. Experienced physical education teachers will deliver professional learning workshops and follow-up, individualized mentoring to primary teachers (i.e., Kindergarten - Year 6). These activities will be supported by online learning and resources. Teachers will then deliver the iPLAY intervention components in their schools. We will evaluate iPLAY in two complementary studies in primary schools across New South Wales (NSW), Australia. A cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT), involving a representative sample of 20 schools within NSW (1:1 allocation at the school level to intervention and attention control conditions), will assess effectiveness and cost-effectiveness at 12 and 24 months. Students' cardiorespiratory fitness will be the primary outcome in this trial. Key secondary outcomes will include students' moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (via accelerometers), fundamental movement skill proficiency, enjoyment of physical education and sport, cognitive control, performance on standardized tests of numeracy and literacy, and cost-effectiveness. A scale-up implementation study guided by the RE-AIM framework will evaluate the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance of the intervention when delivered in 160 primary schools in urban and regional areas of NSW. Discussion: This project will provide the evidence and a framework for government to guide physical activity promotion throughout NSW primary schools and a potential model for adoption in other states and countries.