Evaluating the effectiveness of the Play Active policy intervention and implementation support in early childhood education and care: a pragmatic cluster randomised trial protocol

Andrea Nathan, Emma Adams, Stewart Trost, Donna Cross, Jasper Schipperijn, Matthew McLaughlin, Ashleigh Thornton, Georgina Trapp, Leanne Lester, Phoebe George, Elizabeth Wenden, Hayley Christian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Daily physical activity is critical during the early years of life for facilitating children's health and development. A large proportion of preschool children do not achieve the recommended 3 h of daily physical activity. Early childhood education and care (ECEC) services are a key setting to intervene to increase physical activity. There is a significant need for ECEC specific physical activity policy, including clearer guidelines on the amount of physical activity children should do during care, and strategies for implementation of these guidelines.

METHODS: This study is a pragmatic cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the Play Active physical activity policy intervention to improve early childhood education and care educator's physical activity-related practices. The central component of Play Active is an evidence-informed physical activity policy template which includes 25 practices to support nine age-specific recommendations on the amount of physical activity and sedentary time, including screen time, young children should do while in care. There are six implementation support strategies to facilitate physical activity policy implementation: (i) personalise policy (services select at least five of the 25 practices to focus on initially); (ii) policy review and approval; (iii) a resource guide; (iv) a brief assessment tool for monitoring children's energetic play; (v) professional development; and (vi) Project Officer implementation support (phone calls). A total of 60 early childhood education and care services will be recruited from metropolitan Perth, Western Australia. After baseline assessment, services will be randomly allocated to either intervention or wait-listed comparison conditions. Primary (educator-reported frequency and amount of daily time provided for children's physical activity, sedentary and screen time) and secondary (educator physical activity-related practices, self-efficacy, motivation, attitudes and beliefs, social support, and supportive physical environment) outcomes will be assessed at baseline and post-intervention, after intervention services have had a minimum 3 months of policy implementation within their service.

DISCUSSION: The Play Active trial will rigorously evaluate a novel physical activity policy intervention with implementation support that promotes positive physical activity behaviours in educators and children attending ECEC. If effective, the program could be adapted, scaled-up and delivered in ECEC services nationally.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12620001206910 (date of registration 13/11/2020).

Original languageEnglish
Article number306
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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