Breast cancer risk reduction: is it feasible to initiate a randomised controlled trial of a lifestyle intervention programme (ActWell) within a national breast screening programme?

Annie S. Anderson (Lead / Corresponding author), Maureen Macleod, Nanette Mutrie, Jacqueline Sugden, Hilary Dobson, Shaun Treweek, Ronan E. O'Carroll, Alistair Thompson, Alison Kirk, Graham Brennan, Sally Wyke

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BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second cause of cancer deaths amongst women in the UK. The incidence of the disease is increasing and is highest in women from least deprived areas. It is estimated that around 42% of the disease in post-menopausal women could be prevented by increased physical activity and reductions in alcohol intake and body fatness. Breast cancer control endeavours focus on national screening programmes but these do not include communications or interventions for risk reduction. This study aimed to assess the feasibility of delivery, indicative effects and acceptability of a lifestyle intervention programme initiated within the NHS Scottish Breast Screening Programme (NHSSBSP).

METHODS: A 1:1 randomised controlled trial (RCT) of the 3 month ActWell programme (focussing on body weight, physical activity and alcohol) versus usual care conducted in two NHSSBSP sites between June 2013 and January 2014. Feasibility assessments included recruitment, retention, and fidelity to protocol. Indicative outcomes were measured at baseline and 3 month follow-up (body weight, waist circumference, eating and alcohol habits and physical activity). At study end, a questionnaire assessed participant satisfaction and qualitative interviews elicited women's, coaches, and radiographers' experiences. Statistical analysis used Chi squared tests for comparisons in proportions and paired t tests for comparisons of means. Linear regression analyses were performed, adjusted for baseline values, with group allocation as a fixed effect.

RESULTS: A pre-set recruitment target of 80 women was achieved within 12 weeks and 65 (81%) participants (29 intervention, 36 control) completed 3 month assessments. Mean age was 58 ± 5.6 years, mean BMI was 29.2 ± 7.0 kg/m(2) and many (44%) reported a family history of breast cancer. The primary analysis (baseline body weight adjusted) showed a significant between group difference favouring the intervention group of 2.04 kg (95% CI -3.24 kg to -0.85 kg). Significant, favourable between group differences were also detected for BMI, waist circumference, physical activity and sitting time. Women rated the programme highly and 70% said they would recommend it to others.

CONCLUSIONS: Recruitment, retention, indicative results and participant acceptability support the development of a definitive RCT to measure long term effects.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial was registered with Current Controlled Trials (ISRCTN56223933).

Original languageEnglish
Article number156
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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