A volunteer lifestyle coach programme can support weight management in women attending routine breast screening clinics  – the ActWELL study


Session type:

Annie Anderson1, Angela Craigie, Peter T Donnan, Stephanie Gallant, Amy Hickman, Chloe McAdam, Jennifer McKell, Paul McNamee, E. Jane Macaskill, Nanette Mutrie, Ronan E O'Carroll, Petra Rauchhaus, Naveed Sattar, Martine Stead, Shaun Treweek
1University of Dundee



It is estimated  that around 30% of breast cancers in post-menopausal women are related to lifestyle. The breast cancer-pooling project demonstrated that sustained weight loss of 2 to 4.5kg is associated with an 18% lower risk of breast cancer, highlighting the importance of small changes. Our study aimed to assess a volunteer delivered, community based, weight management programme for women with a BMI >25 kg/m2 attending NHS Scotland Breast Screening clinics.


A Multicentre, 1:1 parallel group, randomised controlled trial was undertaken in 560 women aged 50 to 70 years with BMI >25 kg/m2.  All participants received a breast cancer prevention leaflet. Intervention group participants received the ActWELL intervention which focussed on personalised diet advice and pedometer walking plans. The programme was delivered in leisure centres by Breast Cancer Now volunteer coaches.  

Primary outcomes were changes between groups at 12 months in body weight (kg) and physical activity (accelerometer measured step count).  


279 women were allocated to the intervention group and 281 to the comparison group. Twelve-month data were available from 240 (81%) intervention and 227 (85%) comparison group participants. Coaches delivered 523 coaching sessions and 1915 support calls to 279 intervention participants. Mean weight change was −2.5 kg (95% CI −3.1 to -1.9) in the intervention group and -1.2 kg (-1.8 to 0.6) in the comparison group. The adjusted mean difference was −1.3kg (95% CI -1.2 to -2.2, P=0.003).The odds ratio for losing 5% weight was 2.20 (95% CI 1.4 to 3.4, p=0.0005) in favour of the intervention. The adjusted mean difference in step counts between groups was 483 steps (95% CI -635 to 1601) (NS) in favour of the intervention.   


A  community weight management intervention initiated at breast screening clinics and delivered by volunteer coaches doubled the likelihood of clinically significant weight loss.

Impact statement