The Filter FE Challenge: pilot trial and process evaluation of a multi-level smoking prevention intervention in further education settings

Lead investigator
Dr Adam Fletcher, Senior Lecturer , School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

Smoking remains the leading cause of ill health and early death in Wales, and preventing young people from taking up smoking is vital to improving public health. Despite this, there remains very little investment or research on smoking prevention activities in further education (FE) settings. The National Institute of Health Research has commissioned a team of researchers from DECIPHer to work with ASH Wales to evaluate a new FE-based smoking prevention project – ‘The Filter FE Challenge’ – in FE colleges and schools in Wales.

Aims & objectives
The aim of the study is to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of implementing and trialling ‘The Filter FE Challenge’. The study has three specific objectives: First, to assess whether pre-specified feasibility and acceptability criteria relating to the intervention and trial design are met, before progressing to a larger scale evaluation. Second, to explore the experiences of FE students, staff and the intervention delivery team, in order to refine the intervention and study design prior to a potential phase-III trial. Third, to pilot outcome measures and economic evaluation methods.
Study design

Six FE settings in South Wales will take part in the pilot trial to examine intervention delivery and trial methods in a range of institutional contexts. These will include ‘sixth form’ colleges attached to schools and independent FE colleges and campuses of different sizes. Three FE settings will be randomised to receive the intervention, and three to the control arm.

Approximately 2,500 students aged 16-18 enrolling in FE institutions for the first time in September 2014 will be eligible to participate in baseline and one-year follow-up e-surveys. A range of other quantitative data will be collected via observations, ‘mystery shopper’ audits of local shops, college policy document analysis, intervention team checklists, and the staff training survey. Qualitative data will also be collected via interviews and focus groups to explore the feasibility, acceptability, and potential mechanisms of action from the perspective of young people and staff in different settings.

Start date
1 July 2014
End date
30 June 2016
Trial register number
PHR Project: 13/42/02