Utilizing a web-based intervention to improve cardiorespiratory fitness

A report looks at whether a web-based intervention for teachers resulted in cardiorespiratory fitness improvement for children when delivered to a large number of schools.

The costs of an intervention can sometimes be too great for a practice, hospital, or school to consider using, but could become affordable if spread across a number of institutions. A report in JAMA Pediatrics examined whether using a web-based intervention for teachers led to improvements in the cardiorespiratory fitness in children when it was delivered to a large number of schools.1

The investigators included 22 government elementary schools and 1188 students in grades 3 and 4 in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Eleven of the schools were given a control intervention and 11 of the schools were given the intervention, which included standardized online learning for the teachers along with minimal in-person support from a mentor. Research assistants who were blinded to treatment allocation did follow-up outcome assessments at both 12 and 24 months. A multistage 20m shuttle run was used to assess cardiorespiratory fitness.

In the cohort, there were slightly more boys and the average age of participants was 8.85 years. At the 12-month follow-up assessment, the intervention schools saw the number of 20m shuttle runs increase by 3.32 laps (95% CI, 2.44-4.20 laps), whereas the laps went up by 2.11 laps (95% CI, 1.38-2.85 laps) in the control schools (adjusted difference = 1.20 laps; 95% CI, 0.17-2.24 laps). At the 24-month follow up, the adjusted difference had increased to 2.22 laps (95% CI, 0.89-3.55 laps). The cost of the intervention was 33 Australian dollars, which is roughly $26 in the United States, per student.

The investigators concluded that the school-based intervention did lead to improvements in the children’s respiratory schools, even with delivery to a large number of schools. The sustained effect for 24 months and low overall cost indicated that it could be scalable to the population level.

Reference

1. Lonsdale C, Sanders T, Parker P, et al. Effect of a scalable school-based intervention on cardiorespiratory fitness in children. JAMA Pediatr. May 3, 2021. Epub ahead of print. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.0417