Pilot testing of a nudge-based digital intervention (Welbot) to improve sedentary behaviour and wellbeing in the workplace

Haile, Caitlin and Kirk, Alison and Cogan, Nicola and Janssen, Xanne and Gibson, Ann-Marie and MacDonald, Bradley (2020) Pilot testing of a nudge-based digital intervention (Welbot) to improve sedentary behaviour and wellbeing in the workplace. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (16). 5763. ISSN 1660-4601 (https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165763)

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Welbot is a nudge-based digital intervention that aims to reduce sedentary behaviour and improve physical and mental wellbeing at work. The purpose of this study was to pilot test the Welbot intervention. Forty-one (6M/35F) University staff (M age = 43-years) participated in this study, which was a single arm repeated measures trial conducted over three weeks of intervention. The primary outcome was sedentary behaviour (measured subjectively and objectively) and secondary outcomes included: mental wellbeing, procrastination, depression, anxiety and stress, and work engagement. A subset of participants (n = 6) wore an ActivPAL to objectively measure activity data, while another subset of participants (n = 6) completed a qualitative semi-structured interview to ascertain experiences of using Welbot. Following the intervention, a Friedman non-parametric test revealed that participants self-reported significantly less time sitting and more time standing and objectively recorded more steps at the week-1 follow-up. A series of paired t-tests exhibited that changes in all secondary outcomes were in the expected direction. However, only improvements in depression, anxiety, and stress were significant. After using Welbot, thematic analysis demonstrated that participants perceived they had a positive behaviour change, increased awareness of unhealthy behaviours at work, and provided suggestions for intervention improvement. Overall, findings provided indications of the potential positive impact Welbot may have on employees’ wellbeing, however, limitations are noted. Recommendations for intervention improvement including personalisation (e.g., individual preferences for nudges and the option to sync Welbot with online calendars) and further research into how users engage with Welbot are provided.