Game of Stones: feasibility randomised controlled trial of how to engage men with obesity in text message and incentive interventions for weight loss

Stephan U. Dombrowski (Lead / Corresponding author), Matthew McDonald, Marjon van der Pol, Mark Grindle, Alison Avenell, Paula Carroll, Eileen Calveley, Andrew Elders, Nicola Glennie, Cindy M. Gray, Fiona M. Harris, Adrian Hapca, Claire Jones, Frank Kee, Michelle C. McKinley, Rebecca Skinner, Martin Tod, Pat Hoddinott

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To examine the acceptability and feasibility of narrative text messages with or without financial incentives to support weight loss for men. Design Individually randomised three-arm feasibility trial with 12 months' follow-up. Setting Two sites in Scotland with high levels of disadvantage according to Scottish Index for Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). Participants Men with obesity (n=105) recruited through community outreach and general practitioner registers. Interventions Participants randomised to: (A) narrative text messages plus financial incentive for 12 months (short message service (SMS)+I), (B) narrative text messages for 12 months (SMS only), or (C) waiting list control. Outcomes Acceptability and feasibility of recruitment, retention, intervention components and trial procedures assessed by analysing quantitative and qualitative data at 3, 6 and 12 months. Results 105 men were recruited, 60% from more disadvantaged areas (SIMD quintiles 1 or 2). Retention at 12 months was 74%. Fewer SMS+I participants (64%) completed 12-month assessments compared with SMS only (79%) and control (83%). Narrative texts were acceptable to many men, but some reported negative reactions. No evidence emerged that level of disadvantage was related to acceptability of narrative texts. Eleven SMS+I participants (31%) successfully met or partially met weight loss targets. The cost of the incentive per participant was £81.94 (95% CI £34.59 to £129.30). Incentives were acceptable, but improving health was reported as the key motivator for weight loss. All groups lost weight (SMS+I: -2.51 kg (SD=4.94); SMS only: -1.29 kg (SD=5.03); control: -0.86 kg (SD=5.64) at 12 months). Conclusions This three-arm weight management feasibility trial recruited and retained men from across the socioeconomic spectrum, with the majority from areas of disadvantage, was broadly acceptable to most participants and feasible to deliver. Trial registration number NCT03040518.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere032653
Number of pages14
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Early online date25 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2020


  • SMS
  • feasibility
  • men
  • obesity
  • trial
  • weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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