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Workplace intervention to promote stair‐use in an NHS setting

Blake, Holly; Lee, Sandra; Stanton, Thomas; Gorely, Trish

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Professor of Behavioural Medicine

Sandra Lee

Thomas Stanton

Trish Gorely


Purpose – Increasing physical activity (PA) is an international public health priority.
This study aims to assess the impact of an environmental stair-use intervention using “point of decision” prompts with varying messages in an NHS workplace in the UK.
Design/methodology/approach – Observational data were collected using a covert method (infra-red sensors) in an interrupted time-series design over an eight-week period.
Intervention - consisted of posters displaying encouraging messages in the entrance to two stairways of an acute NHS hospital. The hospital site is a public building accessible to patients, staff (n = ~7,000), students and the general public. Questionnaires (n =221) assessed employee self-reports of and attitudes towards stair-use.
Findings – Following 24-hour observational counts (n = 143,514) no statistically significant differences were seen in either stair climbing or descent on either stairway through the introduction and removal of promotional posters. A number of determinants and barriers to stair-use were identified. Posters were reported as “seen” by a low proportion of respondents (7-25 per cent) and only a small number felt encouraged to use the stairs as a result of the prompts (25-37 per cent of those who “saw” them, 3-18 per cent of total sample).
Research limitations/implications – The study evaluates the impact of a stair-use intervention in a public hospital building, a setting within which research investigations have to date been limited. More research is needed to further investigate determinants and barriers to stair-use and the impact of different message types and locations of “point-of-decision” prompts in a hospital setting.
Practical implications – Environmental interventions to increase stair-use in this setting may be best placed within a comprehensive workplace programme including health education and multi-component interventions.
Originality/value – “Point of decision” prompts are inexpensive as a long-term intervention. As part of a large-scale workplace health campaign, encouraging even a small percentage of employees to use the stairs in organisations of this size is of significance to workplace health promoters.


Blake, H., Lee, S., Stanton, T., & Gorely, T. (2008). Workplace intervention to promote stair‐use in an NHS setting. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 1(3), 162-175.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2008
Online Publication Date Sep 1, 2008
Publication Date Sep 26, 2008
Deposit Date Nov 5, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 5, 2018
Journal International Journal of Workplace Health Management
Print ISSN 1753-8351
Electronic ISSN 1753-836X
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 3
Pages 162-175
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information H. Blake, S. Lee, T. Stanton, T. Gorely, (2008) "Workplace intervention to promote stair‐use in an NHS setting", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 1 Issue: 3, pp.162-175,


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