Prototyping a digital intervention to reduce sitting in University of Edinburgh staff while working at home

Eva Coral Almeida, Sarah Morton*, Ailsa Niven, Claire Fitzsimons, Divya Sivaramakrishnan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output


COVID-19 has led us to new working ways with many desk-based workers across Scotland now working at home (w@h) for some or all their working week. Although w@h has many benefits (e.g., better life / work balance), there are also unintended negative consequences (e.g., increased sedentary behaviour (SB)). High levels of SB are associated with negative health outcomes. Research conducted with University of Edinburgh (UofE) staff w@h reported staff had high levels of SB, accumulating workday desk-time of 89% (6.5 hours). A recent rapid review identified prompts as a potentially transferable strategy to reduce desk-time to support workers to reduce their SB at home.

Aim and Methods

This research aimed to support desk-based UofE staff w@h, to reduce desk-time using a digital intervention integrated and delivered through MS Teams. The intervention comprised three daily prompts for 4-weeks. Prompts comprised reminders to move and suggestions to increase movement (e.g., yoga, house chores, micro-breaks). Sitting, standing and walking were assessed pre- and post-intervention using the Occupational Sitting and Physical Activity Questionnaire (OSPAQ). Participants were also asked questions based on the COM-B model (Capability, Opportunity, Motivation) on desk-time behaviour.

Results and Discussion

UofE staff (n=92) completed the pre-intervention questionnaire, 72 completed the post-intervention questionnaire. Results from OSPAQ indicated changes from baseline to post-intervention. Sitting decreased 84.6 to 80.6%, standing increased 7.3 to 9.8%, and walking increased 7.6 to 9.4%. Results from the COM-B questions indicated changes in mean baseline pre-to post-intervention for reducing desk-time at home: psychological capability (increased knowledge 3.4 to 3.6, increased behavioural regulation 3.5 to 3.8), physical opportunity (decreased 3.1 to 3.0), social opportunity (3.0 to 3.2), reflective motivation (increased intention to reduce desk-time 3.4 to 3.8) and automatic motivation (increased 3.2 to 3.8).


The use of digital prompts reduced desk-time, and increased movement amongst UofE staff. Increases in participants feelings of capability, opportunity and motivation (COM-B constructs) to take breaks indicated that prompts might encourage behaviour change. The use of digital prompts could be a valuable strategy to reduce SB while w@h. Further research should focus on implementing and scaling up to ascertain acceptability and economic viability (e.g., organisational costs, acceptability of intervention, individualization).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventSPARC: Scottish Physical Activity Research Connections: Conference 2022 - Edinburgh
Duration: 9 Nov 202211 Nov 2022


ConferenceSPARC: Scottish Physical Activity Research Connections: Conference 2022
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sedentary behaviour
  • working at home
  • MS Teams
  • digital prompt
  • digital health
  • health behavior
  • health behaviour change
  • behaviour change
  • digital
  • digital intervention


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