The Vital@Work Study. The systematic development of a lifestyle intervention to improve older workers' vitality and the design of a randomised controlled trial evaluating this intervention

Strijk, Jorien E.; Proper, Karin I.; van der Beek, Allard J.; van Mechelen, Willem
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p408
Academic Journal
Background: A major contributor of early exit from work is a decline in health with increasing age. As healthy lifestyle choices contribute to better health outcomes, an intervention aimed at an improved lifestyle is considered a potentially effective tool to keep older workers healthy and vital, and thereby to prolong labour participation. Methods: Using the Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol, a lifestyle intervention was developed based on information obtained from 1) literature, 2) a short lifestyle questionnaire aimed at indentifying the lifestyle behaviours among the target group, and 3) focus-group (FG) interviews among 36 older workers (aged 45+ years) aimed at identifying: a) key determinants of lifestyle behaviour, b) a definition of vitality, and c) ideas about how vitality can be improved by lifestyle. The main lifestyle problems identified were: insufficient levels of physical activity and insufficient intake of fruit and vegetables. Using information from both literature and FG interviews, vitality consists of a mental and a physical component. The interviewees suggested to improve the mental component of vitality by means of relaxation exercises (e.g. yoga); physical vitality could be improved by aerobic endurance exercise and strength training. The lifestyle intervention (6 months) consists of three visits to a Personal Vitality Coach (PVC) combined with a Vitality Exercise Programme (VEP). The VEP consists of: 1) once a week a guided yoga group session aimed at relaxation exercises, 2) once a week a guided aerobic workout group session aimed at improving aerobic fitness and increasing muscle strength, and 3) older workers will be asked to perform once a week for at least 45 minutes vigorous physical activity without face-to-face instructions (e.g. fitness). Moreover, free fruit will be offered at the group sessions of the VEP. The lifestyle intervention will be evaluated in a RCT among older workers of two major academic hospitals in the Netherlands. At baseline, after 6 and 12 months, measurements (primary: lifestyle and vitality, and secondary: work-engagement and productivity) will take place. Discussion: The lifestyle programme is developed specifically tailored to the needs of the older workers and which is aimed at improving their vitality. Trial registration: NTR1240


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