A Web-Based Physical Activity Promotion Intervention for Inactive Parent-Child Dyads: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

Daniel Phipps, Weldon Thomas Green, Reetta Aho, Eeva Kettunen, Stuart Biddle, Kyra Hamilton, Arto Laukkanen, Kaisa Aunola, Derwin King Chan, Nelli Hankonen, Mary Hassandra, Tommi Kärkkäinen, Virpi Liisa Kykyri, Juho Polet, Ryan Rhodes, Montse C. Ruiz, Arja Sääkslahti, Jekaterina Schneider, Hanna Mari Toivonen, Taru LintunenMartin Hagger, Keegan Knittle

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Background: Low levels of physical activity are associated with numerous adverse health outcomes, yet sedentary lifestyles are common among both children and adults. Physical activity levels tend to decline steeply among children aged between 8 and 12 years, even though children's behavioral patterns are largely governed by familial structures. Similarly, parents' activity levels have been generally reported as lower than those of nonparents of comparable age. For this reason, family-based physical activity promotion interventions are a potentially valuable and relatively underresearched method for mitigating physical activity declines as children develop into adolescents and for increasing physical activity in parents. Objective: This study aims to assess the efficacy, feasibility, and acceptability of a novel theory-based web-based physical activity promotion intervention among parent-child dyads in Finland who do not meet physical activity recommendations at baseline. Methods: Participants (target N=254) will be recruited from the general population using a panel company and advertisements on social media and randomly assigned to either an immediate intervention group or a waitlist control group. The intervention consists of 4 web-based group workshops over the course of 10 weeks, web-based tasks and resources, and a social support chat group. Data on physical activity behavior and constructs from the integrated behavior change model will be collected through self-report surveys assessing physical activity, autonomy support, autonomous motivation, attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioral control, intention, self-monitoring, habit, and accelerometer measurements at baseline, post intervention, and 3 months post intervention. Exit interviews with participants will assess the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention procedures. Results: This study will reveal whether the intervention changes leisure-time physical activity among intervention participants relative to the control group and will examine the intervention's effects on important theoretical predictors of physical activity. It will also yield data that can be used to refine intervention materials and inform further implementation. Trial recruitment commenced in September 2023, and data collection should be completed by December 2024. Conclusions: The planned intervention has potential implications for both theory and practice. Practically, the use of an entirely web-based intervention may have scalable future uses for improving physical activity in 2 key populations, while also potentially informing on the value of dyadic, family-based strategies for encouraging an active lifestyle as an alternative to strategies that target either parents or children independently. Further, by assessing change in psychological constructs alongside potential change in behavior, the intervention also allows for important tests of theory regarding which constructs are most linked to favorable behavior change outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere55960
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • dyadic behavior change
  • family behavior change
  • intervention
  • physical activity
  • theory of planned behavior

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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