BACKGROUND: Office workers spend much of their time sitting, which is now understood to be a risk factor for several chronic diseases. This qualitative study examined participants' perspectives following their involvement in a cluster randomised controlled trial of a multi-component intervention targeting prolonged workplace sitting (Stand Up Victoria). The intervention incorporated a sit-stand workstation, individual health coaching and organisational support strategies. The aim of the study was to explore the acceptability of the intervention, barriers and facilitators to reducing workplace sitting, and perceived effects of the intervention on workplace culture, productivity and health-related outcomes.
METHODS: Semi-structured interviews (n = 21 participants) and two focus groups (n = 7) were conducted with intervention participants at the conclusion of the 12 month trial and thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Questions covered intervention acceptability, overall impact, barriers and facilitators to reducing workplace sitting, and perceived impact on productivity and workplace culture.
RESULTS: Overall, participants had positive intervention experiences, perceiving that reductions in workplace sitting were associated with improved health and well-being with limited negative impact on work performance. While sit-stand workstations appeared to be the primary drivers of change, workstation design and limited suitability of standing for some job tasks and situations were perceived as barriers to their use. Social support from team leaders and other participants was perceived to facilitate behavioural changes and a shift in norms towards increased acceptance of standing in the workplace.
CONCLUSIONS: Multi-component interventions to reduce workplace sitting, incorporating sit-stand workstations, are acceptable and feasible; however, supportive social and environmental conditions are required to support participant engagement. Best practice approaches to reduce workplace sitting should address the multiple levels of influence on behaviour, including factors that may act as barriers to behavioural change.