Community interventions for physical activity : the role of a new Cochrane systematic review

Baker, P., Soares, J., & Francis, D. (2012) Community interventions for physical activity : the role of a new Cochrane systematic review. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 15(S1), S348.

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Introduction: Systematic reviews are essential in summarising the results of a range of research studies on a specific topic into a single report. They serve as a key source of evidence-based information to support and develop policy and practice for healthy communities. This presentation will examine a new review of community-wide strategies to increase population levels of physical activity and compare it to an earlier Community Guide Review (CGR) of Community-wide campaigns to increase physical activity which recommended community wide interventions.

Methods: We registered a Cochrane Systematic Review (CSR) title, published a protocol and recently completed the review of Community-wide interventions to increase physical activity. We compared the definitions, design and findings of the CSR to the CGR.

Results: The two reviews differed remarkably in their conclusions with the CGR recommending “strong evidence exists that community-wide campaigns are effective in increasing levels of physical activity”, and the new CSR stating “The body of evidence in this review does not support the hypothesis that multi-component community wide interventions effectively increase population levels of physical activity”. We observed that both reviews examined multi-component interventions as a “combined package”. Possible explanations for the different conclusions may be due to the definition of community (CSR defined community as “comprising those persons residing in a geographically defined community, such as a village, town, or city”, excluding interventions which were whole of state or country, and CGR as “a group of individuals who share one or more characteristics. The CSR utilised a logic model at various stages of the review process and explicitly defined a combination of strategies encompassed within the intervention. The CSR included 25 and CGR 10 studies, respectively. Six of the 10 studies that were included in CGR were excluded from the CSR due to issues relating to study design, intervention definition or duration. The two reviews also differ in function as the CSR seeks to summarise global evidence and included 7 studies in low-income countries, where as the CGR contained only studies deemed relevant to the USA context.

Discussion: Differences in the findings between older and newer reviews can be due to a variety of factors. For example, in updating a review the definition of an intervention can be changed. Further, differences may also be due to improvements in the standards and methodologies for systematic reviews as well as the inclusion of newer studies. These factors need to be understood whenever differences between newer and older reviews are considered.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 58055
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: physical activity, systematic review, community, systematic review (topic), human, city, population, study design, model, policy, lowest income group, hypothesis, methodology, evidence based practice
DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2012.11.846
ISSN: 1440-2440
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CARDIOVASCULAR MEDICINE AND HAEMATOLOGY (110200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Deposited On: 13 Mar 2013 01:13
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2013 22:03

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