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Efficacy of theory-based interventions to promote physical activity. A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

Gourlan, M., Bernard, P., Bortolon, C., Romain, A. J., Lareyre, O., Carayol, M., Boiché, J.

Health Psychology Review, 2016,10(1):50-66. doi:10.1080/17437199.2014.981777

Implementing theory-based interventions is an effective way to influence physical activity (PA) behaviour in the population. This meta-analysis aimed to (1) determine the global effect of theory-based randomised controlled trials dedicated to the promotion of PA among adults, (2) measure the actual efficacy of interventions against their theoretical objectives and (3) compare the efficacy of single- versus combined-theory interventions. A systematic search through databases and review articles was carried out. Our results show that theory-based interventions (k = 82) significantly impact the PA behaviour of participants (d = 0.31, 95% CI [0.24, 0.37]). While moderation analyses revealed no efficacy difference between theories, interventions based on a single theory (d = 0.35; 95% CI [0.26, 0.43]) reported a higher impact on PA behaviour than those based on a combination of theories (d = 0.21; 95% CI [0.11, 0.32]). In spite of the global positive effect of theory-based interventions on PA behaviour, further research is required to better identify the specificities, overlaps or complementarities of the components of interventions based on relevant theories.