Introduction to the e-coachER study
When health-care professionals refer patients with chronic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, lower limb osteoarthritis and poor mental health to an exercise referral scheme, the effects on long-term increases in physical activity, which may help to manage these conditions, are limited as far as we know. We therefore developed the e-coachER support package to add to usual exercise referral schemes and to prompt the use of personal skills such as self-monitoring of amount of physical activity and setting goals to be more physically active.
This package was also intended to empower people to increase their levels of physical activity as a way of improving their health over 9 months and more. The seven-step programme was delivered online (via an interactive website). As part of the package, we mailed participants a guide for accessing the online support, a pedometer to monitor daily steps, and a fridge magnet with a notepad to record physical activity.
We aimed to determine whether or not adding the e-coachER support to usual exercise referral schemes resulted in lasting changes in moderate and vigorous physical activity and whether or not it offers good value for money compared with exercise referral schemes alone.