Stand Out in Class: restructuring the classroom environment to reduce sedentary behaviour in 9-10 year-olds – study protocol for a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial

Background: Sedentary behaviour (sitting) is a highly prevalent negative health behaviour, with individuals of all ages exposed to environments that promote prolonged sitting. Excessive sedentary behaviour adversely affects health in children and adults. As sedentary behaviour tracks from childhood into adulthood, the reduction of sedentary time in young people is key for the prevention of chronic diseases that result from excessive sitting in later life. The sedentary school classroom represents an ideal setting for environmental change, through the provision of sit-stand desks. Whilst the use of sit-stand desks in classrooms demonstrates positive effects in some key outcomes, evidence is currently limited by small samples and/or short intervention durations, with few studies adopting randomised controlled trial (RCT) designs. This paper describes the protocol of a pilot cluster RCT of a sit-stand desk intervention in primary school classrooms. Methods/Design: A two-arm pilot cluster RCT will be conducted in eight primary schools (four intervention, four control) with at least 120 year 5 children (aged 9–10 years). Sit-stand desks will replace six standard desks in the intervention classrooms. Teachers will be encouraged to ensure all pupils are exposed to the sit-stand desks for at least 1 h/day on average using a rotation system. Schools assigned to the control arm will continue with their usual practice, no environmental changes will be made to their classrooms. Measurements will be taken at baseline, before randomisation, and at the end of the schools’ academic year. In this study, the primary outcomes of interest will be school and participant recruitment and attrition, acceptability of the intervention, and acceptability and compliance to the proposed outcome measures (including activPAL-measured school-time and school-day sitting, accelerometermeasured physical activity, adiposity, blood pressure, cognitive function, academic progress, engagement, and behaviour) for inclusion in a definitive trial. A full process evaluation and an exploratory economic evaluation will also be conducted to further inform a definitive trial.Discussion: The primary output of this study will be acceptability data to inform the development of a definitive cluster RCT designed to examine the efficacy of this intervention on health- and education-related outcomes in UK primary school children. Trial registration: ISRCTN12915848 (retrospectively registered, date registered 9 November 2016).