On Thursday 21 March, we held an event at the V&A in Dundee to thank 45 volunteer lifestyle coaches for their involvement in the pioneering ActWELL research trial.

The £1 million scheme, funded by the Scottish Government and led by the University of Dundee seeks to reduce women’s risk of developing breast cancer by helping them make sustainable lifestyle changes, focusing on physical activity, diet and body weight. Women aged over 50 attending their routine breast screening appointments have been invited to take part in the trial, which is being delivered across Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

ActWell and Breast Cancer Now

We have supported the delivery of ActWELL by providing a team of volunteer lifestyle coaches to deliver a lifestyle intervention to trial participants.  Volunteers have been supporting women recruited to the trial over 12 months, carrying out two face-to-face lifestyle coaching sessions and follow-up telephone support sessions. 

Since the three-year trial began in May 2017, we have received over 170 applications from people keen to volunteer their time as a lifestyle coach. In total, 66 volunteers have been trained to deliver the intervention with 45 volunteers actively taking on participants across the four cities. 

How the trial works 

The ActWELL trial team completed the recruitment of participants in September 2018, meeting their target of enrolling 560 women in the study. Of this group, 278 participants were randomly selected to receive the full ActWELL lifestyle intervention with the rest allocated to a control group who did not receive any support. 

Over 550 face-to-face coaching sessions have taken place with women in the intervention group across participating leisure centres. In addition, 45 women within the control group, who have now completed the trial, have registered their interest to meet with a lifestyle coach to receive a one-off coaching session.  

The final participants will complete the trial in August 2019 and the trial results are expected to be published by January 2020.

Sally Newton from Perth is an ActWELL volunteer lifestyle coach in Dundee and attended the event in Dundee. She said:

I was delighted to be invited to the ActWELL celebration in Dundee. It was great to hear more about how the trial is going and meet some of the other coaches again. 

Becoming a lifestyle coach has been a very enjoyable and worthwhile experience. I have worked as a coach before but this has made me to want to do more - it’s inspired me to take on some new courses particularly in nutrition, exercise prescription and applying cognitive behavioural therapy.

With ActWELL I feel like I’m making a difference for people.  I have had some lovely feedback from participants and it’s great to know that I’m putting my skills to good use by helping people with their goals.