Welcome to the U@Uni study website

The U@Uni study is a randomised controlled trial to investigate the effect of a multi-device digital health intervention on health behaviour (e.g., fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity, alcohol consumption, smoking) among young people during the transition from school to university.

More about U@Uni

Eating healthily, being physically active, drinking sensibly and not smoking reduce the risk of developing serious conditions such as cancer, obesity, heart disease and type II diabetes. However, according to recent health surveys only 20% of young people eat the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily, less than 50% meet weekly physical activity guidelines, 25% are smokers and 40% exceed daily alcohol recommendations.

The lifestyle habits that are established in early adulthood often persist into later life and determine future health. The transition to university is a significant change in the lives of young adults as this typically involves living away from home for the first time with freedom from parental supervision; as a result of new peer networks and a change of environment old habits may be broken and new habits are formed. Therefore, this transition represents a "teachable" moment to intervene and promote healthy lifestyle habits.

The intervention uses a number of theory-based techniques from health psychology to ensure that students (i) engage with the intervention material, (ii) receive information that target key beliefs underlying each behaviour and (iii) make specific plans to be more healthy.

The study uses digital technology (e.g., website, social networking, mobile technology) to deliver the intervention in order to appeal to young adults and provide a cost effective way of theory-based health information to a large number of students.

What does the study involve?

The trial will involve recruiting incoming students from the University of Sheffield in 2012. Students who take part in the study will be allocated to (a) the intervention condition (i.e., will answers questionnaire regarding health behaviour and have access to the U@Uni resources) or (b) the measurement only control condition (i.e., will answer questionnaires regarding health behaviour only).

The main aim of the study is to investigate if the U@Uni intervention changes fruit and vegetables intake, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking status at 6-month follow-up.

The trial will also involve taking hair samples from a sub-sample of the participants to provide measures of biochemical markers of health behaviour (i.e., vitamins and minerals, drugs, nicotine and alcohol).

When will the study take place?

The study will start in September 2012 and data collection will end in March 2013.

Trial registration

ISRCTN67684181 "Trial of an online health behaviour intervention to promote healthy lifestyle habits in new university students. Registered with Controlled Trials (http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN67684181).

ISRCTN07407344 "U@Uni LifeGuide: Trial of an online health behaviour intervention to promote healthy lifestyle habits in new university students". Registered with Controlled Trials (http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN07407344/)

Study Protocols

Epton, T., Norman, P., Sheeran, P., Harris, P. R., Webb, T. L., Ciravegna, F., Meier, P., Brennan, A., Julious, S.A., Naughton, D., Petroczi, A., Dadzie, A.S., & Kruger, J., (2013). A theory based online health behaviour intervention for new university students: Study protocol. BMC Public Health, 13, 107.

Epton, T., Norman, P., Sheeran, P., Harris, P. R., Webb, T. L.,  Julious, S.A., Brennan, A., Meier, P., Kruger, J., Naughton, D., & Petroczi, A. (2014). A theory based online health behaviour intervention for new university students: Study protocol for a repeat trial.

Funding

This project is supported through the National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI; http://www.npri.org.uk) which includes the following Funding Partners (in alphabetical order): Alzheimer's Research Trust, Alzheimer's Society, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorate, Department of Health, Diabetes UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division of the Public Health Agency (HSC & R&D Division), Medical Research Council, The Stroke Association, Wellcome Trust, Welsh Assembly Government and World Cancer Research Fund.


The U@Uni team


Name / role Location E-mail Phone
Dr Paul Norman
PI / Health Psychology
Dept of Psychology
University of Sheffield
p.norman@shef.ac.uk 0114 2226505
Professor Paschal Sheeran
Social & Health Psychology
Dept of Psychology & Neuroscience
University of North Carolina
psheeran@email.unc.edu
Professor Peter R Harris
Social & Health Psychology
School of Psychology
University of Sussex
p.r.harris@sussex.ac.uk 01273 678342
Dr Thomas L Webb
Social Psychology
Dept of Psychology
University of Sheffield
t.webb@shef.ac.uk 0114 2226516
Dr David Cameron Dept of Psychology
University of Sheffield
d.s.cameron@sheffield.ac.uk
Dr Tracy Epton
Social & Health Psychology
School of Psychological Sciences
University of Manchester
epton.tracy@gmail.com 0161 275 1972
Professor Fabio Ciravegna
Computer Science
Dept of Computer Science
University of Sheffield
f.ciravegna@dcs.shef.ac.uk 0114 2221940
Dr Aba-Sah Dadzie
Computer Science
Dept of Computer Science
University of Sheffield
a.dadzie@shef.ac.uk 0114 2221873
Professor Alan Brennan
Health Economics
ScHARR
University of Sheffield
a.brennan@shef.ac.uk 0114 2220684
Jen Kruger
Health Economics
ScHARR
University of Sheffield
j.kruger@shef.ac.uk 0114 2225207
Professor Declan Naughton
Biomolecular Science
School of Life Sciences
Kingston University
d.naughton@kingston.ac.uk 020 84177097
Professor Andrea Petroczi
Public Health
School of Life Sciences
Kingston University
a.petroczi@kingston.ac.uk 020 84172436
Dr Steven A. Julious
Medical Statistics
ScHARR
University of Sheffield
s.a.julious@shef.ac.uk 0114 2220709
Professor Petra Meier
Public Health
ScHARR
University of Sheffield
p.meier@shef.ac.uk 0114 2220735


Publications


Protocol:
Epton, T., Norman, P., Sheeran, P., Harris, P.R., Webb, T.L., Ciravegna, F., Brennan, A., Meier, P., Julious, S.A., Naughton, D., Petroczi, A., Dadzie, A.S., & Kruger, J. (2013). A theory-based online health behavior intervention for new university students: Study protocol. BMC Public Health, 13, 107doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-107
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/13/107

Formative Research:
Epton, T., Norman, P., Harris, P Webb, T., Snowsill, A., & Sheeran, P. (in press). Development of theory-based health messages: Three-phase programme of formative research. Health Promotion International.  doi: 10.1093/heapro/dau005
http://heapro.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/06/19/heapro.dau005.full

Measurement:
Nepusz, T., Petróczi, A., Naughton, D., Epton, T., & Norman, P. (2014). Estimating the prevalence of socially sensitive behaviours: Attributing guilty and innocent noncompliance with the single sample count method. Psychological Methods, 19, 334-355. doi: 10.1037/a0034961

Trial Results:
Epton, T., Norman, P., Dadzie, A.S., Harris, P.R., Webb, T.L., Sheeran, P., Julious, S.A., Ciravegna, F., Brennan, A., Meier, P., Naughton, D., Petroczi, A., Kruger, J., & Shah, I. (2014). A theory-based online health behaviour intervention for new university students (U@Uni): Results from a randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health, 14, 563. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-563
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24903620

Cameron, D., Epton, T., Norman, P., Sheeran, P., Harris, P.R., Webb, T.L., Julious, S.A., Brennan, A., Thomas, C., Petroczi, A., Naughton, D., & Shah, I. (2015). A theory-based online health behaviour intervention for new university students (U@Uni:LifeGuide): Results from a repeat randomised controlled trial. BMC Trials, 16, 555. doi: 10.1186/s13063-015-1092-4
http://www.trialsjournal.com/content/16/1/555


Cost Effectiveness:
Kruger, J., Brennan, A., Strong, M., Norman, P., Epton, T., & Thomas, C. (2014). The cost-effectiveness of a theory-based online health behaviour intervention for new university students: An economic evaluation. BMC Public Health, 14, 1011. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1011
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/14/1011


Thomas, C., Breeze, P., Strong, M., Brennan, A., Norman, P., Cameron, D., & Epton, T. (2016). The cost-effectiveness of an updated theory-based online health behavior intervention for new university students: U@Uni2. Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology, 8, 191-203. doi: 10.5897/JPHE2016.0833
http://www.academicjournals.org/journal/JPHE/article-abstract/69D803B60538


Conference presentations

Brennan, A., Kruger, J., Strong, M., Norman, P., & Epton, E. (2013). A novel, multi-behaviour, cost-effectiveness model to evaluate UK public health interventions. 35th Annual Meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making, 19-23 October 2013, Baltimore, USA

Epton, T., Norman, P., Sheeran, P., Webb, T., & Harris, P. (2013). Development of a theory- and empirically-based health behaviour intervention for new university students. EHPS 2013 Abstracts, Psychology & Health, 28 (Sup 1), 91. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2013.810851

Norman, P., Epton, T., Dadzie, A-S., Sheeran, P., Harris, P., Webb, T., Ciravegna, F., Julious, S., Brennan, A., Meier, P., Kruger, J., Naughton, D., & Petroczi, A. (2013). A theory-based online intervention to promote health behaviour in new university students: One-month follow-up data. EHPS 2013 Abstracts, Psychology & Health, 28 (Sup 1), 132. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2013.810851

Norman, P., Epton, T., Dadzie, A-S., Kruger, J., Sheeran, P., Harris, P., Webb, T., Ciravegna, F., Brennan, A., Meier, P., Julious, S., Naughton, D., & Petroczi, A. (2013). Trial of a theory-based online health behaviour intervention for new university students. UK Society for Behavioural Medicine 9th Annual Scientific Meeting, 9-10 December 2013, Oxford, UK

Norman, P., Epton, T., Dadzie, A-S., Sheeran, P., Harris, P., Webb, T., Ciravegna, F., Julious, S., Brennan, A., Meier, P., Kruger, J., Naughton, D., & Petroczi, A. (2014). A theory-based online health behaviour intervention for new university students: One-month follow-up data. 28th Conference of the European Health Psychology Society, 26-30 August 2014, Innsbruck, Austria. Norman, P., Cameron, D., Epton, T., Sheeran, P., Harris, P.R., Webb, T.L., Julious, S.A., Brennan, A., Meier, P.S., Kruger, J., Naughton, D., & Petroczi, A.  (2014). A theory-based online health behaviour intervention for new university students (U@Uni:LifeGuide). UK Society for Behavioural Medicine 10th Annual Scientific Meeting, 3-4 December 2014, Nottingham, UK.

Norman, P., Cameron, D., Epton, T., Sheeran, P., Harris, P.R., Webb, T.L., Julious, S.A., Brennan, A., Meier, P.S., Kruger, J., Naughton, D., & Petroczi, A.  (2014). A theory-based online health behaviour intervention for new university students (U@Uni:LifeGuide). UK Society for Behavioural Medicine 10th Annual Scientific Meeting, 3-4 December 2014, Nottingham, UK.

Naughton, D.P., Shah, I., Cameron, D., & Norman, P. (2015). Hair-based rapid monitoring for multiple drugs: Application to an online theory-based health behaviour intervention for new university students. Research and Advances in Psychiatry, 2(3), PS 3.5. http://www.rapjournal.eu/index.php?PAGE=articolo_dett&ID_ISSUE=900&id_article=7653