An efficacy trial of 'Steps to Your Health', a health promotion programme for adults with intellectual disability

Suzanne McDermott, Wendy Whitner, Marlo Thomas-Koger, Joshua R. Mann, John Clarkson, Timothy L. Barnes, Haikun Bao, Rebecca A. Meriwether

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Objective: Although there are evaluation and effectiveness studies of health promotion interventions for adults with intellectual disabilities (ID), randomized efficacy trials of such interventions are lacking.Design: A randomized active control intervention trial.Setting: The participants attended the health promotion classes in local disability agency service facilities.Method: We enrolled 443 individuals and randomly assigned them to one of two eight-week participatory classes. The 'Steps to Your Health' (STYH) classes emphasized moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), healthy eating and body mass index (BMI) reduction. The control intervention focused on hygiene and safety.Results: We did not find a statistically significant difference in mean MVPA or BMI change between completers of the STYH group compared to the control group one year after the intervention was completed. We did find that participation in STYH classes had a non-significant association with odds of reduction in BMI (odds ratio [OR] 2.87, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.91-9.11) and completers who lived in group homes were more likely than their counterparts who lived with families or in apartments to decrease their BMI (OR 4.61; 95% CI 1.14-18.64).Conclusions: This trial did not demonstrate a significant effect of STYH participation on change in mean minutes of MVPA or mean BMI 12 months after classes ended, although there was a non-significant association with odds of reduction of BMI (p = 0.07). This study has implications for design of intervention studies in people with intellectual disability (ID).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-290
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Education Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant 1 R01DD000111).


  • mental retardation
  • obesity
  • randomized intervention trial


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