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What interventions are used to improve exercise adherence in older people and what behavioural techniques are they based on? A systematic review
  1. Jonathan Room1,2,
  2. Erin Hannink1,
  3. Helen Dawes1,
  4. Karen Barker3
  1. 1 Physiotherapy Research Unit, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK
  2. 2 Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  3. 3 Centre for Movement and Occupational Rehabilitation Sciences (MOReS), Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Jonathan Room;{at}


Objectives To conduct a systematic review of interventions used to improve exercise adherence in older people, to assess the effectiveness of these interventions and to evaluate the behavioural change techniques underpinning them using the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy (BCTT).

Design Systematic review.

Methods A search was conducted on AMED, BNI, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsychINFO databases. Randomised controlled trials that used an intervention to aid exercise adherence and an exercise adherence outcome for older people were included. Data were extracted with the use of a preprepared standardised form. Risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias. Interventions were classified according to the BCTT.

Results Eleven studies were included in the review. Risk of bias was moderate to high. Interventions were classified into the following categories: comparison of behaviour, feedback and monitoring, social support, natural consequences, identity and goals and planning. Four studies reported a positive adherence outcome following their intervention. Three of these interventions were categorised in the feedback and monitoring category. Four studies used behavioural approaches within their study. These were social learning theory, socioemotional selectivity theory, cognitive behavioural therapy and self-efficacy. Seven studies did not report a behavioural approach.

Conclusions Interventions in the feedback and monitoring category showed positive outcomes, although there is insufficient evidence to recommend their use currently. There is need for better reporting, use and the development of theoretically derived interventions in the field of exercise adherence for older people. Robust measures of adherence, in order to adequately test these interventions would also be of use.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42015020884.

  • exercise
  • adherence
  • older people
  • behaviour change
  • behaviour change technique taxonomy
  • compliance

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  • Contributors JR conceived the study and was responsible for study design and search strategy, JR and EH were responsible for data extraction, quality assessment and data analysis. KB and HD provided methodological advice. JR drafted the manuscript, this was revised with input from EH, KB and HD. All authors approved the final version.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Centre for Movement and Occupational Rehabilitation Science (MOReS) Oxford Brookes University, and the Physiotherapy Research Unit, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford .

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There are no additional data available for this review.

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