Synthesising evidence for equity impacts of population-based physical activity interventions: a pilot study.
The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity 2012 ; 10: 76.
DOI : 10.1186/1479-5868-10-76
PubMed ID : 23768212
This study applied an equity lens to existing research to investigate what is known about the impact of population-level physical activity interventions on social inequalities.
We performed a pilot systematic review to assess the availability of information on the social distribution of intervention effects, the targeting or allocation of interventions, and the baseline characteristics of participants. This comprised (i) a rapid review of systematic reviews and (ii) a review and synthesis of a sample of primary studies included in the eligible systematic reviews.
We found 19 systematic reviews of environmental and policy interventions. Relatively few of these (26%, n=5) were prospectively designed to examine effects on inequalities, and none were able to fully synthesise evidence of distributional effects. Over 40% of primary studies reported subgroup intervention effects; 18% reported socio-demographic interaction effects. Studies most often compared effectiveness by gender, followed by age, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. For gender, effects appeared to be evenly distributed overall, although heterogeneity in gradients between studies suggested that some interventions affect males and females differently.
Our findings suggest that it is feasible to generate better evidence about how public health interventions may affect health inequalities using existing data and innovative methods of research synthesis.