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Keywords:

  • adolescents;
  • computer- and web-based interventions;
  • systematic review;
  • nursing;
  • obesity;
  • overweight;
  • physical activity

hamel l.m., robbins l.b. & wilbur j. (2011) Computer- and web-based interventions to increase preadolescent and adolescent physical activity: a systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(2), 251–268.

Abstract

Aim.  This review examined evidence regarding computer- or web-based interventions to increase preadolescent and adolescent physical activity.

Background.  Today’s youth are less active and more overweight than their counterparts from 25 years ago. Overweight youth tend to become overweight adults with weight-related maladies, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Interventions to increase physical activity that reach a large audience are needed. Computer- and web-based physical activity interventions are an appealing means to influence physical activity in preadolescents and adolescents. However, their effectiveness must be determined.

Data sources.  The following electronic databases were searched for studies published from 1998 through 2010: CINAHL, PubMed, PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts, SportDISCUS and Proquest.

Review methods.  A systemic review was conducted. Fourteen randomized control trials or quasi-experimental studies were reviewed to: (1) determine the effect of computer- or web-based interventions on increasing physical activity and/or improving body mass index, weight, percent body fat or waist circumference as a result of increasing physical activity; and (2) examine if additional components associated with these interventions increased success.

Results.  Although most interventions demonstrated statistically significant increases in physical activity or positive health changes related to physical activity, findings were small or short-lived. The value of conducting the interventions at school, using a theory or model as a framework, and supplementing with individual tailoring and parental involvement, is discussed.

Conclusion.  Computer- and web-based interventions can promote physical activity among preadolescents and adolescents, particularly in schools. However, further efforts are needed to sustain positive changes.