Systematic review of behaviour change techniques used to increase physical activity among people with dementia

  • S. Nyman
  • N. Adamczewska
  • N. Howlett


Background: Evidence supports the use of behaviour change techniques (BCTs) to increase physical activity among the general adult population. However, little is known about the effectiveness of BCTs among people with dementia (PWD). We systematically reviewed the published literature to explore the BCTs that increase physical activity among PWD. Methods: We searched PsychINFO, MEDLINE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from 01/01/2000 to 01/12/2016. The following inclusion criteria was applied: randomised controlled trial or quasi-randomised trial, with people diagnosed/suspected to have dementia, that used at least one BCT, with follow-up data on a measure of physical activity. Included studies were appraised for risk of bias and BCTs. Findings were narratively synthesised using categories of either ‘very promising’, ‘quite promising’, or ‘non-promising’, and BCTs were judged as having potential promise if they featured in at least twice as many very/quite promising interventions than non-promising interventions (Gardner et al., 2016). Findings: Ten articles from 9 trials were included that reported physical activity findings on behavioural outcomes (n=5; 2 very promising, 1 quite promising, 2 non-promising) or intervention adherence (n=5; 1 quite promising, 4 non-promising). Thirteen BCTs were used 66 times across the trials. While no BCTs had potential promise to increase intervention adherence, 3 BCTs had potential promise for improving physical activity outcomes: goal setting (behaviour), social support (unspecified), and using a credible source. Discussion: We found a dearth of studies aimed at increasing physical activity among PWD, with at present only three BCTs showing potential promise.
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