Population-based physical activity promotion with a focus on health equity: a review of reviews

Kohler S, Dippon L, Helsper N, Rütten A, Abu-Omar K, Birkholz L, Pfeifer K, Weber P, Semrau J (2023)

Publication Type: Journal article, Review article

Publication year: 2023


Book Volume: 22

Article Number: 18

Journal Issue: 1

DOI: 10.1186/s12939-023-01834-5


Background: The extent to which people are physically active is dependent upon social gradients. Numerous studies have shown that especially people with social disadvantages do not meet the physical activity (PA) recommendations. A promising strategy to alleviate this issue are approaches that promote PA in the general population. In addition, several researchers have raised concerns that population-based health interventions may increase health inequities. The aim of the current review of reviews was therefore to identify successful population-based PA promotion approaches with a particular focus on health equity. Methods: Six electronic databases were examined for systematic reviews on population-based PA promotion for the period 2015 to 2021. A reference list and grey literature search were also conducted. Two independent reviewers used inclusion/exclusion criteria to screen titles and abstracts of the potentially relevant literature and conducted a quality assessment for each identified review. All included reviews of population-based approaches for PA promotion with a focus on disadvantaged populations and/or health equity were narratively summarized. Results: Our search resulted in 4,411 hits. After a systematic review process, six reviews met the inclusion criteria and were included after they were all rated as high quality. We identified that mass-media campaigns, point-of-decision prompts, environmental approaches, policy approaches, and community-based multi-component approaches can promote PA in the general population. Across populations with social disadvantages mass-media campaigns, point-of-decision prompts and policy approaches are likely to be effective as long as they are tailored. Regarding environmental approaches, the results are inconsistent. None of the reviews on community-based multi-component approaches provided evidence on health equity. Conclusion: There are several effective approaches to promote PA in the general population but evidence regarding health equity is still sparse. Future studies should therefore pay more attention to this missing focus. Furthermore, there is a lack of evidence regarding the type of tailoring and the long-term impact of population-based approaches to PA promotion. However, this requires appropriate funding programmes, complex study designs and evaluation methods.

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Kohler, S., Dippon, L., Helsper, N., Rütten, A., Abu-Omar, K., Birkholz, L.,... Semrau, J. (2023). Population-based physical activity promotion with a focus on health equity: a review of reviews. International Journal For Equity in Health, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-023-01834-5


Kohler, Simone, et al. "Population-based physical activity promotion with a focus on health equity: a review of reviews." International Journal For Equity in Health 22.1 (2023).

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