The Promotion Of Physical activity through structured Education with differing Levels of on-going Support for those with pre-diabetes: randomised controlled trial in a diverse multi-ethnic community.

What is the PROPELS study?

PROPELS is a large research study recruiting 1308 participants and funded for five years by the National Institute for Health Research. This study is trying to find out whether an intervention to support physical activity behaviour change and maintenance can lead to sustained increases in physical activity over four years. It is a collaborative piece of work between Leicester Diabetes Centre, MRC Epidemiology Unit Cambridge and the University of Cambridge.

Who can take part in the study?

Participants are being recruited from a number of GP practices within Leicester, Leicestershire, Ely, Wisbech and Cambridge. If someone has a recorded blood glucose test that shows that they have been above target for the last five years, they are being invited to participate in the study. The blood glucose levels must be higher than normal but NOT high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with levels in this range have Impaired Glucose Regulation, previously known as Impaired Glucose Tolerance, Impaired Fasting Glucose or Pre-Diabetes. Whatever term is used, it means these individuals are more at risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In the Leicester site, we aim to recruit 25% of the participants from a South Asian background and 66% of participants from a Caucasian background. Participants will be 40 to 74 years of age (25 to 74 years if South Asian).

What will happen to these people once they have been identified as being suitable for the study?

Those individuals interested in taking part are invited to a baseline clinic visit to meet the study team and have a blood test to measure the amount of sugar (glucose) and fat (cholesterol) in the blood. An initial blood test is done to check that the person does not have diabetes. A number of other measures are made (including waist circumference, weight and blood pressure) and questionnaires are completed which ask about the person’s health. At the end of the visit, the participant is given two activity monitors to wear for the next 8 days; these provide a measure of activity levels and posture changes. All these measures are completed a year later and again after another 3 years.Once recruited to the study, these high risk people will be randomised (a bit like tossing a coin) into one of 3 groups.

  • The control group will be given an advice leaflet and attend all clinical visits;
  • Intervention group one will be given this advice leaflet but will also attend an initial education session called Walking Away from Diabetes. They will also receive an annual group education update session until the end of the study.
  • Intervention plus group two will be given the same as above but also receive additional on-going behaviour change support in the form of educator delivered phone calls and automated motivational text messages/use of website.

All participants in the study will then be followed up over a five year period to find out if they make changes to their activity levels and to see what happens to their overall diabetes and cardiovascular risk.

What is the Walking Away from Diabetes Module?

DESMOND Walking Away from Diabetes is a 3.5 hour education course for up to 10 people who are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. They are welcome to bring a friend or family member. The course has a structured curriculum and prepared resources, and is delivered by 2 DESMOND trained Educators. The main aim of the module is to encourage people at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to increase the amount of walking they do.

What is the current progress of the study in Leicester?

GP practices are currently identifying people who are eligible for being involved in the study by looking through their patient lists held on their practice computer systems. The study is on target to complete recruitment by the end of 2014.

Where can I find out more about the PROPELS Study?

If you want to know more about this study please contact the study team on 0116 258 8897 or