Effectiveness Studies in Health Promotion: A Review of the Methodological Quality of Studies Reporting Significant Effects on Physical Activity in Working Age Adults

Publication: Contribution to journalScientific review articlesResearch


The methodology of intervention studies on physical activity (PA) promotion is of great importance regarding evidence development in complex interventions. The aim of this review was to provide an overview of the methodological quality of those studies which reported statistically significant effects of interventions promoting PA. PUBMED was searched for reviews on PA promotion to identify studies reporting effective interventions with participants of working age (16–67 years). Selected reviews were screened and data from primary studies with effective interventions were extracted to assess methodological quality. Forty-six reviews with 600 primary studies were identified, of which 33 met the inclusion criteria. Twenty-one studies were conducted as randomized controlled trials, 13 included an intervention control group, 25 measured PA by questionnaire, and 13 included objective measurements. Information on used statistics was often scarce, and long-term follow-up measurements were frequently missing. The overall methodological quality was moderate for randomized studies and low for non-randomized studies; information on methods and results was often lacking. To overcome these methodological issues, standardized guidelines for reporting study results should be considered, not only when publishing results but also when designing studies. This review provides a solid foundation for the development of practical advice for planning application-oriented studies in PA promotion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number813
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2019

Research areas and keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Exercise
  • Health Promotion/organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Program Evaluation
  • Publishing
  • Research Design
  • Young Adult