ActWell: a randomised control trial to assess the impact of a lifestyle intervention in women attending NHS breast screening clinics


The incidence of breast cancer in Scotland is predicted to rise by 27% by 2030 and, whilst there are measures to support reductions in morbidity and mortality, the breast cancer community is also looking to support weight management programmes in post-menopausal women.

In Scotland, 72% of women aged 55 to 74 years have a BMI >25kg/m2. A recent feasibility study of a lifestyle intervention initiated in the NHS breast screening sites, and delivered in the community, reported significant findings in weight loss and increased activity after 12 weeks in intervention versus control groups. 

The ActWELL study will be a four centre, 1:1 parallel group randomised controlled trial (RCT) of a 12-month weight management intervention initiated in breast cancer screening centres and delivered by trained Breast Cancer Now ActWELL coaches in community settings. The study will be completed by 545 women with a BMI > 25 kg/m2 attending routine breast cancer screening clinics. Measures will be taken at baseline, 12-weeks and at 12-month follow up and complemented by qualitative interviews on perceived acceptability and impact.

The ActWELL intervention programme involves two intervention meetings with ActWELL coaches plus further telephone contacts over 12 months. The programme focuses on personalised diet (including drinks) and physical activity habits. Behaviour change techniques including self-monitoring, goal setting, action and coping plans and implementation intentions will be utilised. The intervention offers significant potential to endorse and facilitate weight management at a potentially teachable moment. The Scottish Government has already made a commitment to roll out the intervention if the RCT is successful (within the cancer strategy, 'Beating cancer: ambition and action').

The ActWELL trial is registered with the ISRCTN Registry - ISRCTN11057518 and there is a website for the trial.             

HERU researchers involved in this research project: Paul McNamee, Graham Scotland

External Collaborators: A. Anderson (University of Dundee); S. Treweek  (HSRU); N. Mutrie, C. McAdam (University of Edinburgh); A. Craigie (Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research); R. O'Carroll, M. Stead (Stirling University); J. Macaskill (Ninewells Hospital) and N. Sataar (University of Glasgow).


Anderson, A.S., Craigie, A.M., Gallant, S., McAdam, C., Macaskill, E.J., Mutrie, N., Neilson, A.R., O'Carroll, R.E., Rauchhaus, P., Sattar, N., Stead, M. and Treweek, S. (2018) 'Randomised controlled trial to assess the impact of a lifestyle intervention (ActWELL) in women invited to NHS breast screening' [protocol], BMJ Open, 8(11), e024136.