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Randomised controlled trial and economic analysis of an internet-based weight management programme: POWeR+ (Positive Online Weight Reduction)

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posted on 2019-03-06, 09:42 authored by P Little, B Stuart, FDR Hobbs, J Kelly, ER Smith, KJ Bradbury, S Hughes, PWF Smith, MV Moore, MEJ Lean, BM Margetts, CD Byrne, S Griffin, M Davoudianfar, J Hooper, G Yao, S Zhu, J Raftery, L Yardley
Background Behavioural counselling with intensive follow-up for obesity is effective, but in resource-constrained primary care settings briefer approaches are needed. Objectives To estimate the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of an internet-based behavioural intervention with regular face-to-face or remote support in primary care, compared with brief advice. Design Individually randomised three-arm parallel trial with health economic evaluation and nested qualitative interviews. Setting Primary care general practices in the UK. Participants Patients with a body mass index of ≥ 30 kg/m2 (or ≥ 28 kg/m2 with risk factors) identified from general practice records, recruited by postal invitation. Interventions Positive Online Weight Reduction (POWeR+) is a 24-session, web-based weight management intervention completed over 6 months. Following online registration, the website randomly allocated participants using computer-generated random numbers to (1) the control intervention (n = 279), which had previously been demonstrated to be clinically effective (brief web-based information that minimised pressure to cut down foods, instead encouraging swaps to healthier choices and increasing fruit and vegetables, plus 6-monthly nurse weighing); (2) POWeR+F (n = 269), POWeR+ supplemented by face-to-face nurse support (up to seven contacts); or (3) POWeR+R (n = 270), POWeR+ supplemented by remote nurse support (up to five e-mails or brief telephone calls). Main outcome measures The primary outcome was a modelled estimate of average weight reduction over 12 months, assessed blind to group where possible, using multiple imputation for missing data. The secondary outcome was the number of participants maintaining a 5% weight reduction at 12 months. Results A total of 818 eligible individuals were randomised using computer-generated random numbers. Weight change, averaged over 12 months, was documented in 666 out of 818 participants (81%; control, n = 227; POWeR+F, n = 221; POWeR+R, n = 218). The control group maintained nearly 3 kg of weight loss per person (mean weight per person: baseline, 104.4 kg; 6 months, 101.9 kg; 12 months, 101.7 kg). Compared with the control group, the estimated additional weight reduction with POWeR+F was 1.5 kg [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.6 to 2.4 kg; p = 0.001] and with POWeR+R was 1.3 kg (95% CI 0.34 to 2.2 kg; p = 0.007). By 12 months the mean weight loss was not statistically significantly different between groups, but 20.8% of control participants, 29.2% of POWeR+F participants (risk ratio 1.56, 95% CI 0.96 to 2.51; p = 0.070) and 32.4% of POWeR+R participants (risk ratio 1.82, 95% CI 1.31 to 2.74; p = 0.004) maintained a clinically significant 5% weight reduction. The POWeR+R group had fewer individuals who reported doing another activity to help lose weight [control, 47.1% (64/136); POWeR+F, 37.2% (51/137); POWeR+R, 26.7% (40/150)]. The incremental cost to the health service per kilogram weight lost, compared with the control group, was £18 (95% CI –£129 to £195) for POWeR+F and –£25 (95% CI –£268 to £157) for POWeR+R. The probability of being cost-effective at a threshold of £100 per kilogram was 88% and 98% for POWeR+F and POWeR+R, respectively. POWeR+R was dominant compared with the control group. No harms were reported and participants using POWeR+ felt more enabled in managing their weight. The qualitative studies documented that POWeR+ was viewed positively by patients and that health-care professionals generally enjoyed supporting patients using POWeR+. Study limitations Maintenance of weight loss after 1 year is unknown. Future work Identifying strategies for longer-term engagement, impact in community settings and increasing physical activity. Conclusion Clinically valuable weight loss (> 5%) is maintained in 20% of individuals using novel written materials with brief follow-up. A web-based behavioural programme and brief support results in greater mean weight loss and 10% more participants maintain valuable weight loss; it achieves greater enablement and fewer participants undertaking other weight-loss activities; and it is likely to be cost-effective. Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN21244703. Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 21, No. 4. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.


This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 21, No. 4.



Health Technology Assessment, 2017, 21 (4), pp. 1-62

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Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN21244703.



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