Physical Activity Loyalty Card Scheme Participant Information

Click here for a printable version of the Participant Information

Study title

The Physical Activity Loyalty (PAL) Card Scheme

Invitation to participate

You are invited to take part in a research study investigating the effects of a physical activity loyalty card scheme. This study is being conducted by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast. Please read the following information carefully, and take some time to decide if you wish to take part. If you have any questions, or would like more information on any aspect of the research, please ask us. Thank you for taking the time to consider this invitation.

What is the purpose of the study?

There is a clear link between adequate levels of daily physical activity and a healthy life. However, we acknowledge that there are a number of barriers in your daily life that prevent you from undertaking physical activity. The aim of this study is to investigate the best methods of encouraging people to undertake more physical activity. You will have access to a purpose-built website which will provide you with information and tools to help you become more active. In addition, we will be placing sensors around Stormont Estate which can be used to monitor the amount of physical activity that you are doing. By swiping a small card containing a microchip (the loyalty card) across the sensors you can keep track of your daily physical activity levels. Accumulated minutes of physical activity are automatically archived onto your web page, and sent via a regular text message to your mobile phone.

Why have I been chosen?

You have been asked to take part because you work in Dundonald House or Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate. You are part of a total group of 400 people taking part in this study.

Do I have to take part?

It is up to you to decide. We will describe the study and go through this information sheet. We will then ask you to sign a consent form to show you have agreed to take part. You will be given this information sheet and a copy of the signed consent form to keep. You are free to withdraw at any time, without giving a reason. This would not affect the standard of care you receive.

What will happen to me if I take part?

The study will last for 12 weeks. We want to find out the best methods of encouraging people to undertake more physical activity. To find this out, we want to compare how helpful a physical activity website is in encouraging people to be more active compared to people using the physical activity website plus the opportunity to earn rewards. We will put people into two groups (Group A or Group B below). To try to make sure the groups are the same to start with, each participant is put into a group by chance (randomly).

The following flow diagram shows each stage of the study and how long it is expected to last:

PAL Scheme Participant Flowchart

*You will be invited to attend a focus group discussion (lasts about 1 hour) either at the end of week 12 or 6 months. Attendance is voluntary but will help us to plan future studies.

If you are reading this information sheet then you will have already seen some of our posters, flyers or emails advertising the study. Once you have read this information and you are interested in taking part, the next step will be to log on to the website and register your interest. We will ask you to tell us some information about yourself in order for us to ensure you are suitable to take part. If suitable, we will then email you and outline what the next steps are. You will be asked to log on to the website again and we will ask you to re-read this information sheet to ensure you are happy and then fill out a consent form. We will also ask you to fill in some further details about yourself (this will only take around 15 minutes).

Once this stage is complete we will post out your loyalty card and you can start tracking your activity. The website contains information on where the sensors are placed, and marks out suggested walking/running routes that you can take. There will also be a sensor placed at the Activ Health Club.

The aim of this study is to investigate the best methods of encouraging people to undertake more physical activity. All participants in both groups will have access to the physical activity website ( The website contains lots of information to help get you started. There are also a number of tools that will help you plan physical activity as part of your daily routine. You can receive tailored information relating to specific ways that can help you to overcome barriers that you may have to becoming more active. By using your loyalty card you will get feedback on the amount of physical activity you have completed and the number of calories burned.

We will encourage everyone to complete 30 minutes of physical activity on at least 5 days per week. This is the amount of physical activity that the Chief Medical Officer has recommended that you undertake in order to lead a healthy lifestyle.

In addition, for participants in Group A only, the number of minutes of physical activity completed is turned into "points". One minute of physical activity equals 1 point. A maximum of 30 points can be earned each day (i.e., 30 minutes of physical activity). At the end of week 6 and week 12 participants in Group A can reimburse points collected for a range of non-cash rewards. At the end of week 6, week 12 and 6 months we will ask you to fill out some questionnaires in order for us to see how you are getting on. You will be sent out an email to remind you to go on the website and complete these. They should take no longer than 15 minutes.

Will my taking part in this study be kept confidential?

All information that is collected about you during the course of the study will be kept strictly confidential, and will not be passed on to any third party. When the researchers look at the results in more detail, each person’s information will only be available under a personal identification number to maintain confidentiality. All information relating to the study will be kept in a locked filing cabinet, and on a password protected computer available only to the study researchers.

What will happen to the results of the study?

The results of the study will be published in a scientific journal. You will not be identified in any publication. When the study is complete, a letter will be sent to you to give you the main results.

Who is organising and funding the research?

The study has been organised by members of the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast. It is funded by the National Prevention Research Initiative and the Public Health Agency.

Who has reviewed the study?

This study has been reviewed and given a favourable opinion by Queen’s University Ethics Committee.

Contact for further information

Dr Ruth Hunter
Centre for Public Health
Queen's University Belfast
Institute of Clinical Sciences B
Royal Victoria Hospital
Grosvenor Road
BT12 6BJ

Tel: 02890 633078 / 07530370171
Email: Dr Ruth Hunter