BMC musculoskeletal disorders 2017 11 2218(1) 482 doi 10.1186/s12891-017-1836-2
Individuals with persistent musculoskeletal pain (PMP) have an increased risk of developing co-morbid health conditions and for early-mortality compared to those without pain. Despite irrefutable evidence supporting the role of physical activity in reducing these risks; there has been limited synthesis of the evidence, potentially impacting the optimisation of these forms of interventions. This review examines the effectiveness of interventions in improving levels of physical activity and the components of these interventions.
Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials were included in this review. The following databases were searched from inception to March 2016: CENTRAL in the Cochrane Library, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO and AMED. Two reviewers independently screened citations, assessed eligibility, extracted data, assessed risk of bias and coded intervention content using the behaviour change taxonomy (BCTTv1) of 93 hierarchically clustered techniques. GRADE was used to rate the quality of the evidence.
The full text of 276 articles were assessed for eligibility, twenty studies involving 3441 participants were included in the review. Across the studies the mean number of BCTs coded was eight (range 0-16); with ‘goal setting’ and ‘instruction on how to perform the behaviour’ most frequently coded. For measures of subjective physical activity: interventions were ineffective in the short term, based on very low quality evidence; had a small effect in the medium term based on low quality evidence (SMD 0.25, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.48) and had a small effect in the longer term (SMD 0.21 95% CI 0.08 to 0.33) based on moderate quality evidence. For measures of objective physical activity: interventions were ineffective – based on very low to low quality evidence.
There is some evidence supporting the effectiveness of interventions in improving subjectively measured physical activity however, the evidence is mostly based on low quality studies and the effects are small. Given the quality of the evidence, further research is likely/very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in effect estimates and is likely to change the estimates. Future studies should provide details on intervention components and incorporate objective measures of physical activity.