The effectiveness of the Structured Health Intervention For Truckers (SHIFT): a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT)

Stacy A Clemes* (Corresponding Author), Veronica Varela-Mato, Danielle H Bodicoat, Cassandra L Brookes, Yu-Ling Chen, Charlotte L Edwardson, Laura J Gray, Amber J Guest, Vicki Johnson, Fehmidah Munir, Nicola J Paine, Gerry Richardson, Katharina Ruettger, Mohsen Sayyah, Aron Sherry, Ana Suazo Di Paola, Jacqui Troughton, Thomas Yates, James A King

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Long distance heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers exhibit higher than nationally representative rates of obesity, and obesity-related co-morbidities, and are underserved in terms of health promotion initiatives. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the multicomponent 'Structured Health Intervention For Truckers' (SHIFT), compared to usual care, at 6- and 16-18-month follow-up.

METHODS: We conducted a two-arm cluster RCT in transport sites throughout the Midlands, UK. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline, at 6- and 16-18-month follow-up. Clusters were randomised (1:1) following baseline measurements to either the SHIFT arm or usual practice control arm. The 6-month SHIFT programme included a group-based interactive 6-h education and behaviour change session, health coach support and equipment provision (Fitbit® and resistance bands/balls to facilitate a 'cab workout'). The primary outcome was device-assessed physical activity (mean steps/day) at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included the following: device-assessed sitting, physical activity intensity and sleep; cardiometabolic health, diet, mental wellbeing and work-related psychosocial variables. Data were analysed using mixed-effect linear regression models using a complete-case population.

RESULTS: Three hundred eighty-two HGV drivers (mean ± SD age: 48.4 ± 9.4 years, BMI: 30.4 ± 5.1 kg/m2, 99% male) were recruited across 25 clusters (sites) and randomised into either the SHIFT (12 clusters, n = 183) or control (13 clusters, n = 199) arms. At 6 months, 209 (55%) participants provided primary outcome data. Significant differences in mean daily steps were found between groups, in favour of the SHIFT arm (adjusted mean difference: 1008 steps/day, 95% CI: 145-1871, p = 0.022). Favourable differences were also seen in the SHIFT group, relative to the control group, in time spent sitting (- 24 mins/day, 95% CI: - 43 to - 6), and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (6 mins/day, 95% CI: 0.3-11). Differences were not maintained at 16-18 months. No differences were observed between groups in the other secondary outcomes at either follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: The SHIFT programme led to a potentially clinically meaningful difference in daily steps, between trial arms, at 6 months. Whilst the longer-term impact is unclear, the programme offers potential to be incorporated into driver training courses to promote activity in this at-risk, underserved and hard-to-reach essential occupational group.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN10483894 (date registered: 01/03/2017).

Original languageEnglish
Article number195
Number of pages17
JournalBMC medicine
Issue number1
Early online date24 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2022


  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary behaviour
  • Occupational drivers
  • Diet
  • Obesity
  • Workplace


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