Feasibility of procedures for a randomised pilot study of reduced exertion, high-intensity interval training (REHIT) with non-diabetic hyperglycaemia patients

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Background: Physical activity and exercise interventions to improve health frequently bring about intended effects under ideal circumstances but often fail to demonstrate benefits in real-world contexts. The aim of this study was to describe the feasibility of an exercise intervention (reduced-exertion, high-intensity interval training) in non-diabetic hyperglycaemia patients delivered in a National Health Service setting to assess whether it would be appropriate to progress to a future large-scale study. Methods: The intention was to recruit 40 participants from a single centre (specialist diabesity centre). Patients were eligible to take part if they were diagnostically defined as non-diabetic hyperglycaemic based on a glycated haemoglobin (HbA 1c) value of 42-46 mmol mol. Study procedures including recruitment, occurrence of adverse events, intervention acceptability, and intervention adherence were used to assess feasibility. Results: Key criteria for progression to a larger study were not met. The study revealed several issues including patient eligibility, challenges to recruitment, patient consent, and poor clinician engagement. Furthermore, despite the simplicity and convenience of using HbA 1c to screen for diabetes risk, the process of accurately screening and case finding eligible patients was problematic. The small sample recruited for this trial (n = 6) also limits the interpretation of data, thus it is not possible to estimate the variability of intended outcomes to use in a formal sample size calculation for a full-scale trial. Some aspects of the intervention worked well. The acceptability of the exercise intervention and outcome measures met progression criteria thresholds and adherence was very high, with 97% of exercise sessions completed for participants that finished the study. Conclusions: Given the issues, the trial is not feasible in its current form. Yet, this preparatory stage of trial design pre-empted problems with the intervention that could be changed to optimise the design and conduct of future studies. Solutions to the issues identified in this study revolve around using a dedicated local recruiter with a strong relationship among the healthcare team and patients, using participant incentives to take part, and allowing for a longer recruitment period. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04011397. Registered 07 July 2019 - retrospectively registered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Number of pages13
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
Early online date19 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2020


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