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P42 What is the evidence base surrounding parental physical activity? A systematic scoping review of the literature
  1. Rachel Simpson1,
  2. Kate Ellis1,
  3. Kathryn Hesketh1, 2,
  4. Esther van Sluijs1
  1. 1UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK


Background Despite the known benefits of physical activity (PA) to physical and mental health, many people fail to achieve recommended PA levels. Given parents are less active than non-parent contemporaries, they constitute a large potential intervention population. Interventions should be based upon in-depth understanding of the target behaviour and its determinants. This scoping review (based on Arksey and O’Malley’s guidelines (2005)) therefore aimed to provide an overview of the current evidence base for parental PA.

Methods Four databases (Medline, Embase, PsychInfo, Scopus) were systematically searched to identify peer-reviewed articles focusing on parental PA from 2005 onwards, including interventional, observational or qualitative study designs. Title and abstract screening was followed by duplicate full-text screening. Data extracted for all articles (100% checked by a second reviewer) included study design, proportion of fathers in sample, and ages of children. For quantitative studies, PA assessment method and factors examined based on the Socio-Ecological Model were extracted, as were intervention target and approach for interventional studies, and questions addressed in qualitative studies. Narrative methods, tabulations and graphs were used to summarise results.

Results Of 14,913 unique records retrieved, 213 articles were included; 27 reported on multiple study designs. 173 articles reported on quantitative data (81 cross-sectional, 26 longitudinal, 76 interventional) and 58 qualitative. The majority of articles originated from North America (62%); 53% included only mothers, whilst 2% included only fathers. Articles most frequently represented parents of infants (55% of articles), toddlers (51%), preschoolers (50%), and primary-school aged children (49%). Parents of young and older adolescents were only represented in 28% and 18% of the articles respectively. The majority of quantitative articles only included self-reported PA (69%). Observational articles focused on individual correlates/determinants (90%) and to a lesser extent on interpersonal and environmental factors (27% and 25% respectively). The majority of interventional articles related to full trials (71%), rather than pilot or feasibility studies, and involved parents alone (59%). Qualitative articles predominantly obtained information from focus groups or group interviews (47%) or individual interviews (45%), and most explored PA barriers and facilitators (57%).

Conclusion A range of quantitative and qualitative research has been conducted on parental PA. This review highlights areas for conducting systematic reviews of related articles, such as those focused on the PA of parents of specific groups of children. It also identifies gaps in the literature, for example around paternal PA, to inform intervention development.

  • physical activity
  • parents
  • scoping review

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