The Devon Active Villages Evaluation (DAVE) trial of a community-level physical activity intervention in rural south-west England: a stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial

Emma Solomon, Tim Rees, Obioha C. Ukoumunne, Brad Metcalf, Melvyn Hillsdon

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21 Citations (SciVal)


Background: The majority of adults are not meeting the guidelines for physical activity despite activity being linked with numerous improvements to long-term health. In light of this, researchers have called for more community-level interventions. The main objective of the present study was to evaluate whether a community-level physical activity intervention increased the activity levels of rural communities.
Methods: 128 rural villages (clusters) were randomised to receive the intervention in one of four time periods between April 2011 and December 2012. The Devon Active Villages intervention provided villages with 12 weeks of physical activity opportunities for all age groups, including at least three different types of activities per village. Each village received an individually tailored intervention, incorporating a local needs-led approach. Support was provided for a further 12 months following the intervention. The evaluation study used a stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial design. All 128 villages were measured at each of five data collection periods using a postal survey. The primary outcome of interest was the proportion of adults reporting sufficient physical activity to meet internationally recognised guidelines. Minutes spent in moderate-and-vigorous activity per week was analysed as a secondary outcome. To compare between intervention and control modes, random effects linear regression and marginal logistic regression models were implemented for continuous and binary outcomes respectively.Results10,412 adults (4693 intervention, 5719 control) completed the postal survey (response rate 32.2%). The intervention did not increase the odds of adults meeting the physical activity guideline (adjusted OR 1.02, 95% CI: 0.88 to 1.17; P = 0.80), although there was weak evidence of an increase in minutes of moderate-and-vigorous-intensity activity per week (adjusted mean difference = 171, 95% CI: -16 to 358; P = 0.07). The ineffectiveness of the intervention may have been due to its low penetration—only 16% of intervention mode participants reported awareness of the intervention and just 4% reported participating in intervention events.
Conclusions: A community-level physical activity intervention providing tailored physical activity opportunities to rural villages did not improve physical activity levels in adults. Greater penetration of such interventions must be achieved if they are to increase physical activity prevalence at the community level.Trial RegistrationCurrent Controlled Trials ISRCTN37321160 webcite.
Original languageEnglish
Article number94
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2014


  • Physical activity, Stepped wedge design, Community-level intervention, Rural communities


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