PULSE -gamification

Last registered on May 13, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

PULSE -gamification
Initial registration date
May 02, 2024

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
May 13, 2024, 11:51 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


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Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Globally, around 80% of adolescents do not meet the World Health Organization’s recommended activity level (World Health Organization 2019). Physical activity is essential not only for health outcomes, but may also be important for academic outcomes, as it may improve academic behavior and performance and facilitate learning through improved cognition and emotional wellbeing. It is thus expected that students would benefit from increasing their activity level.
Active travel is a form of physical activity that is assumed easily incorporated into people’s everyday lives. Active travel results in more physical activity during the school commute than the inactive counterparts. Despite the benefits of active travel, international research shows a decrease in the number of children using an active form of transport to school.
Gamification has shown promising results in the health and physical activity domain, however, the literature on using gamification to study active transport is limited, particularly among adolescents.
In this study we want to investigate the following research question: To what extent does gamification impact active travel (cycling or walking) among adolescent.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Skjelbred, Siv-Elisabeth. 2024. "PULSE -gamification." AEA RCT Registry. May 13. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.13410-1.0
Experimental Details


We plan to conduct a between subject treatment manipulation. We are investigating whether we can increase adolescents use of active transport through gamification. The research project will be implemented between April and June 2024.

The study will be conducted as part of a follow-up study of adolescents’ mobility behaviour in the countries of Østfold, Buskerud and Akershus in Norway. 11 463 students aged between 15 and 19 years across 59 upper secondary education schools participated in the initial data collection in October, 2023. They were asked for consent to participate again for a follow up study and the second survey will be distributed in April, 2024 to those that consented.

We constrain this study to students who are in the first or second year of upper secondary education, reducing the potential sample to 6820. These students will be invited to download a mobility tracking mobile app named “Spor”, which is based on the Review app from MotionTag GmbH, at the end of the survey and asked to keep the app on their phone for 7 weeks. This study focuses on the subsample of participants who downloaded the app. Participants who agree to download the app, but fail to do so, will receive at least one reminder.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
minutes cycled and walked per day
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Amount of cycling and walking is measured through the mobile app Spor.
The “Spor”-app automatically registers an individual’s outdoor movements. The app provides a best guess of the travel mode for each stage. The participants could confirm the detected mode or correct it. It automatically provides guesses for airplane, bicycle, bus, cable car, car, ferry, light rail, regional train, subway, tram, train and other. Correction allows for some additional modes to be selected: e-bike, electric car, electric kick scooter, motorbike and scooter.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Intentions to cycle and walk
the amount of physical activity
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
from a survey before and after

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
After providing informed consent (electronically signed) a web-based questionnaire will be administered to collect self-reported sociodemographic variables (e.g, age, sex, country of birth, parental education) and information about travel activities and attitudes.

The survey is used also to recruit people to download the Spor app.

The RCT consists of 6 weeks of observation for all participants. The “Spor”-app automatically registers an individual’s outdoor movements.

In the control version of the app there are only two possible screens: days and statistics. In the days tab participants see detailed information about their daily trips, as illustrated in the left most picture in figure 1. In the statistics screen users find weekly summary of their travel behaviour by mode of transport, including duration, distance and number of trips.

The treatment version of the app includes an additional screen: community. This screen shows comparison between the individual user and the other users on the following factors: the average number of km travelled by bike and foot per day in the given week (muscle kilometers), estimate of the amount of CO2 emission saved by choosing to walk and cycle rather than taking a car and carbon footprint, the estimated kilogram per day of CO2 mission driven by the persons travel.

Comparison to others is one of the gamification elements intended to stimulate active transport. In addition the treatment group will also receive e-mail and text messages motivating them to choose active forms of transport. The e-mails include goal setting, badges and streaks and information about the advantages of active transport.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Participants will be randomized to treatment and control in the survey using random number generation. Assignment to the treatment and control groups will be fully randomized without any form of stratification. We strive to have about equal numbers of participants in the treatment and the control group.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
300 per treatment arm (2 arms)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We use a travel diary question from the initial survey to provide an approximation for the expected mean and variance of minutes of active transport per day. The question asked the participants what mode of transport they had used the day before and the number of minutes spent with each mode. Based on this data we assume that the mean level of active transport in the control group will be 16 minutes with a standard deviation of 30. If we assume a significance level of 0.05 and power of 80%. and a one-sided test, the minimum detectable effect size is an increase of 5.7 minutes, or 0.2 standard deviations.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

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