Research Output

Text Messaging Interventions for Improvement in Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Youth: Systematic Review

  BACKGROUND:
The use of text messages (short message service, SMS) to change physical activity and sedentary behavior in youth is of interest due to the need for novel, more effective intervention approaches. Previous reviews have examined a variety of technology-based interventions and their impact on different health behaviors, but evidence regarding the impact of just SMS on physical activity and sedentary behavior is lacking.

OBJECTIVE:
The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness and use of theory of SMS interventions for improving physical activity and sedentary behavior in youth.

METHODS:
Authors systematically searched electronic databases from March to November 2017. Citations were sifted using additional reviewers, and a qualitative synthesis of eligible studies was conducted using piloted data extraction forms. To be eligible for inclusion, studies had to be of a randomized controlled or quasi-experimental design, incorporate SMS, involve adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years, and assess at least one physical activity or sedentary behavior outcome. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration's Risk of Bias tool.

RESULTS:
A total of 13 studies reporting 11 interventions were included in the qualitative analysis. Studies included interventions that were conducted in schools, online, or face-to-face. Studies were of high heterogeneity with regard to study duration, participant characteristics, intervention content, and outcome measures. Findings were equivocal with regard to intervention effectiveness for physical activity and sedentary behavior. Overall, 7 interventions resulted in an improvement for physical activity and 6 for sedentary behavior. All studies were judged to be of high risk of bias for at least 1 item.

CONCLUSIONS:
Some studies in this review showed promising results for using SMS to improve physical activity and sedentary behavior in youth. High heterogeneity of design and outcome measures precluded data pooling and conclusions as to which specific intervention elements are linked to increased effectiveness cannot be drawn. The authors propose incorporating the following elements in future studies: specific focus on desired health behavior; mixed-methods design; include long-term follow-up; include self-monitoring, goal setting, and feedback; combine SMS with a mobile app; and send 3 or more SMS text messages per week. More rigorous studies are needed to explore the relationship between intervention effectiveness and specific intervention components such as content and delivery.

  • Type:

    Review

  • Date:

    17 September 2018

  • Publication Status:

    Published

  • Publisher

    JMIR Publications Inc.

  • DOI:

    10.2196/10799

  • Library of Congress:

    RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    610 Medicine & health

  • Funders:

    University of the West of Scotland

Citation

Ludwig, K., Arthur, R., Sculthorpe, N., Fountain, H., & Buchan, D. S. (2018). Text Messaging Interventions for Improvement in Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Youth: Systematic Review. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 6(9), e10799. https://doi.org/10.2196/10799

Authors

Keywords

review; exercise; sedentary lifestyle; text messaging; cell phone; telemedicine; adolescent

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