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Workplace intervention to promote stair‐use in an NHS setting

H. Blake (School of Nursing, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
S. Lee (University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK)
T. Stanton (School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
T. Gorely (School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 26 September 2008




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.


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.


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.


“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. and Gorely, T. (2008), "Workplace intervention to promote stair‐use in an NHS setting", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 162-175.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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