What is involved?

Here you will find information about what you can expect from taking part in the REACT study.

To download a printable copy of the following information please click here.


What is REACT about?

REACT is a programme which is looking at whether taking part in group physical activity sessions can help people like you maintain your independence and physical ability to get around.


Am I eligible?
We are asking older adults from Bath, Bristol, Birmingham and Devon, who have some difficulty doing daily activities such as walking, getting out of a chair, and climbing stairs to take part in the REACT research project.


Who is organising the study?
The study is being organised by the Department for Health at the University of Bath, and it is being paid for by the National Institute for Health Research, Public Health Research Programme.

The senior researchers who are conducting this study are:

What will I be asked to do?

If you are eligible and agree to take part in the REACT study, there are a number of things we would ask you to do. First of all we would ask you to wear a small activity monitor on your wrist for a week so that we can measure your current level of physical activity. Secondly we would like to spend some time with you asking some questions about your everyday life, your health and wellbeing. Finally we would like to measure your height and weight and ask you to do some simple physical function tests. This would mean walking 4 metres, doing some simple balance tests and sitting in a chair and then standing up. We would do all these things at the beginning of the study and again after 6, 12 and 24 months.

In order to carry out these measures a researcher would meet you in a local community centre. If you need it we can arrange for transport to get you there. Before we do anything we would ask you to complete a consent form with the researcher, so that you know exactly what we are asking you to do and you can confirm if you are happy to go ahead. We will then do the physical function tests with you. If you meet the criteria for REACT and you would still like to take part we will then show you how to wear an activity monitor and go through the questions with you. We will give you an envelope so that you can send the monitor back to us after a week.


Each measurement session should take between one and two hours. We appreciate the time that you are giving up for us and in addition to paying your travelling expenses to/from each measurement session, we will also give you a £15 shopping voucher for every measurement session you attend at 6, 12, and 24 months. Refreshments will be served at each measurement session.


What will I take part in?

For this part of REACT we will separate our participants into 2 groups. This will be done randomly so neither you, nor the researchers, will be able to influence which group you are in. If you are in Group 1 you will be asked to attend physical activity and social sessions for 12 months. These will take place in local community centres and each group will include about 15 people. The sessions will be held twice a week for three months, then reduce to once a week for nine months.


If you are in Group 2 you will be given an information pack which offers advice on healthy ageing and details of local activities, and you will be invited to three social events with other people in Group 2 where you can find out more about the best strategies to live a healthy life.


Sub-study about activity and brain health

If you live in Bristol or Bath you may be asked to take part in some more measurements about our brain function as we get older. Our colleagues at the University of Oxford are interested in understanding how the brain is organized and how it processes information. They will investigate this using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scans, which are safe and non-invasive. They will examine the size of different brain structures, which parts of the brain work together and how different parts are connected and see if these things change while people are taking part in REACT. When we first meet you we will give you more information about this sub-study (the fMRI sub-study information sheet) and you can decide if you would like to take part. This is entirely up to you and we will give you time to discuss it with your family, friends and GP.


Do I have to take part?

Not at all, it’s up to you. Even if you agree to take part you can drop out at any time with no penalty and you do not have to provide a reason. If you change your mind about any aspect of taking part, at any stage, you just need to let us know. If you decide not to take part, this will have no effect on your medical care.

What are the possible risks of taking part?

A recent report by the UK Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies concluded that “engaging in physical activity carries very low health and safety risks for most older adults. In contrast, the risks of poor health as a result of inactivity are very high.”


The REACT programme’s activity sessions are tailored to our participants’ health and abilities and do not incorporate any ‘vigorous activity’. The sessions will progress slowly and adapt to participants’ improving capabilities.


What are the possible benefits of taking part?

The REACT physical activity programme is designed to help improve your ability to perform your daily activities, increase your strength and stamina and help maintain the physical function you need to continue living independently. It will also offer an opportunity to socialise with other people in the study and our aim is to make it lots of fun.


Older adults often find being involved in research to be a positive experience, as they feel it is interesting and stimulating. You will also be contributing to a large pioneering study which is the first of its kind in the UK. This study will provide very important information for the NHS. If successful, the programme could be shared around the UK and may improve the health of many other older adults in the future.


Confidentiality and data protection

If you decide to be involved in this research study, anything you say and all the information you share with us is confidential. Any electronic data will be anonymised with a numeric code so that the results cannot be linked back to you. All such data are kept on password-protected computers and any paper information (such as your contact details and any research questionnaires) will be stored safely in lockable cabinets in locked rooms, and would only be accessed by the research team. Responsible members of the University of Bath may be given access to data for monitoring and/or audit of the study to ensure we are complying with guidelines. With your consent, we will keep your personal information on a secure database in order to contact you for future studies.