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Long-term efficacy of a printed or a Web-based tailored physical activity intervention among older adults

Denise Astrid Peels1*, Catherine Bolman1, Rianne Henrica Johanna Golsteijn1, Hein de Vries23, Aart Nicolaas Mudde1, Maartje Marieke van Stralen4 and Lilian Lechner1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, Open University of the Netherlands, PO Box 2960, 6401, DL Heerlen, the Netherlands

2 Department of Health Promotion, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, PO Box 616, 6200, MD Maastricht, the Netherlands

3 Care and Public Health Research institute (Caphri), Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

4 EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research and the Department of Public and Occupational Health, VU University Medical Centre, van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081, BT Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:104  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-104

Published: 2 September 2013



This study provides insight into the long-term efficacy (i.e. 12 month results) of the Web-based or print-delivered tailored Active Plus intervention (with and without environmental approach) to promote physical activity (PA) among the over-fifties. Differences in effect among subgroups are studied as well.


Intervention groups (i.e. print-delivered basic (PB; N = 439), print-delivered environmental (PE; N = 435), Web-based basic (WB; N = 423), Web-based environmental (WE; N = 432)) and a waiting list control group (N = 411) were studied in a clustered randomized controlled trial. Intervention participants received tailored advice three times within 4 months. Long-term effects (12 months after the intervention has started, i.e. 8 months after the intervention was completed) on PA (i.e. self-reported weekly minutes and days of sufficient PA) were tested using multilevel linear regression analyses. Participants’ age, gender, BMI, educational level, PA intention and the presence of a chronic physical limitation were considered to be potential moderators of the effect.


Overall, the Active Plus intervention was effective in increasing weekly days of sufficient PA (B=0.49; p=.005), but ineffective in increasing weekly minutes of PA (B=84.59; p=.071). Per intervention condition analysis showed that the PB-intervention (Bdays=0.64; p=.002; Bmin=111.36; p=.017) and the PE-intervention (Bdays=0.70; p=.001; Bmin=157.41; p=.001) were effective in increasing days and minutes of PA. Neither Web-based conditions significantly increased PA, while the control group decreased their PA. In contrast to the intervention effect on minutes of PA, the effect on weekly days of PA was significantly moderated by the participants’ baseline intention to be sufficiently physically active.


In general, after 12 months the print-delivered interventions resulted in stronger effects than the Web-based interventions. The participants’ baseline intention was the only significant moderator of the intervention effect. All other assessed user characteristics did not significantly moderate the effect of the intervention, which might indicate that the intervention is sufficiently tailored to the different participant characteristics. Additional efforts should be taken to increase the sustainability of Web-based interventions.

Trial registration

Dutch Trial Register: NTR2297.

Tailored intervention; Physical activity; Effect; Implementation costs; Older adults; Print-delivered; Web-based