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Effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity among socioeconomically disadvantaged women: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Address for correspondence: Dr V Cleland, Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 23, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia



Physical activity is important for preventing weight gain and obesity, but women experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage are at high risk of inactivity. This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity among women experiencing disadvantage, and the intervention factors (i.e. physical activity measure, delivery mode, delivery channel, setting, duration, use of theory, behavioural techniques, participant age, risk of bias) associated with effectiveness. We conducted a meta-analysis of controlled trials using random-effects models and meta-regression. Seven databases were searched for trials among healthy women (18–64 years), which included a physical activity intervention, any control group, and statistical analyses of a physical activity outcome at baseline and post-intervention. Nineteen studies were included (n = 6,339). Because of substantial statistical heterogeneity (χ2 = 53.61, df = 18, P < 0.0001, I2 = 66%), an overall pooled effect is not reported. In subgroup analyses, between-group differences were evident for delivery mode, which modestly reduced heterogeneity (to 54%). Studies with a group delivery component had a standardized mean difference of 0.38 greater than either individual or community-based delivery. Programs with a group delivery mode significantly increase physical activity among women experiencing disadvantage, and group delivery should be considered an essential element of physical activity promotion programs targeting this population group.