Increasing active travel to school: Are we on the right track? A cluster randomised controlled trial from Sydney, Australia

Li Ming Wen, Denise Fry, Dafna Merom, Chris Rissel, Helen Dirkis, Angela Balafas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of a program to increase walking to and from school. Design: A cluster randomised controlled trial. Setting: 24 primary public schools in inner west Sydney, Australia. Participants: 1996 students aged 10-12 years and their parents. Intervention: A two-year multi-component program included classroom activities, development of school Travel Access Guides, parent newsletters and improving environments with local councils. Measures: Two measures were used: a survey completed by students on how they travelled to and from school over five days, and a survey completed by their parents on how their child travelled to and from school in a usual week. Results: The percentage of students who walked to and from school increased in both the intervention and control schools. Data from parent surveys found that 28.8% of students in the intervention group increased their walking, compared with 19% in the control group (a net increase of 9.8%, p = 0.05). However this effect was not evident in the student data. Conclusion: The study produced a mixed result, with a high variation in travel patterns from school to school. Intervention research should address the complexity of multiple factors influencing student travel to school with a focus on changing local environments and parents' travel to work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-618
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Active travel
  • Evaluation
  • Health promotion
  • Walk to school


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