University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

By the same authors


  • Nicholas F Taylor
  • Katherine E Harding
  • Amy M Dennett
  • Samantha Febrey
  • Krystal Warmoth
  • Abi J Hall
  • Luke A Prendergast
  • Victoria A Goodwin
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Original languageEnglish
Article numberafab154
Number of pages10
JournalAge and Ageing
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2021


Low physical activity levels are a major problem for people in hospital and are associated with adverse outcomes.

This systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression aimed to determine the effect of behaviour change interventions on physical activity levels in hospitalised patients.

Randomised controlled trials of behaviour change interventions to increase physical activity in hospitalised patients were selected from a database search, supplemented by reference list checking and citation tracking. Data were synthesised with random-effects meta-analyses and meta-regression analyses, applying Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation criteria. The primary outcome was objectively measured physical activity. Secondary measures were patient-related outcomes (e.g. mobility), service level outcomes (e.g. length of stay), adverse events and patient satisfaction.

Twenty randomised controlled trials of behaviour change interventions involving 2,568 participants (weighted mean age 67 years) included six trials with a high risk of bias. There was moderate-certainty evidence that behaviour change interventions increased physical activity levels (SMD 0.34, 95% CI 0.14–0.55). Findings in relation to mobility and length of stay were inconclusive. Adverse events were poorly reported. Meta-regression found behaviour change techniques of goal setting (SMD 0.29, 95% CI 0.05–0.53) and feedback (excluding high risk of bias trials) (SMD 0.35, 95% CI 0.11–0.60) were independently associated with increased physical activity.

Targeted behaviour change interventions were associated with increases in physical activity in hospitalised patients. The trials in this review were inconclusive in relation to the patient-related or health service benefits of increasing physical activity in hospital.


© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (

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