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01.12.2017 | Systematic review | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Implementation Science 1/2017

A theoretical analysis of the barriers and facilitators to the implementation of school-based physical activity policies in Canada: a mixed methods scoping review

Implementation Science > Ausgabe 1/2017
Katie A. Weatherson, Heather L. Gainforth, Mary E. Jung
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s13012-017-0570-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Given the potential impact school-based daily physical activity (DPA) policies can have on the health outcomes of Canadian children, it is surprising that such little research has examined the implementation and student-level effectiveness of these policies, and that even less have used theory to understand the barriers and facilitators affecting uptake of this policy by teachers. This review descriptively summarizes the implementation status, approaches used to implement DPA, and the effectiveness of DPA at increasing the physical activity of children at school. In addition, the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) was used to explore the barriers and facilitators to DPA implementation.


A scoping review of English articles using ERIC, CINAHL, and Google Scholar (2005 to 2016) was conducted. Only studies that evaluated the implementation and/or student-level effectiveness of DPA policies in Canadian elementary schools were included. Only articles that examined DPA implementation barriers and facilitators by teachers, principals, and/or administration were eligible for the TDF analysis. Data on study characteristics and major findings regarding implementation status, implementation approach used, and impact on student’s physical activity were extracted and were summarized descriptively, including study quality indicators. Two coders extracted and categorized implementation barriers and facilitators into TDF domains.


The search resulted in 66 articles being retrieved and 38 being excluded for not meeting the eligibility criteria, leaving 15 eligible for review (10 of which examined barriers and facilitators to implementation from DPA deliverers’ perspective). Eleven of 15 studies examined the Ontario DPA policy, and 2 studies were from both Alberta and British Columbia. Thirteen studies examined implementation, and only two examined effectiveness. DPA implementation status, approaches to delivery, and effectiveness on student’s PA levels are inconsistent across the three provinces. A total of 203 barriers/facilitators were extracted across the ten implementation studies, most of which related to the environmental context and resources (ECR; n = 86; 37.4%), beliefs about consequences (n = 41; 17.8%), and social influences (n = 36; 15.7%) TDF domains.


With the limited research examining the DPA policy in Canada, the current status and approaches used to implement DPA and the student-level effectiveness is not well understood; however, this review revealed that DPA deliverers often report many barriers to DPA implementation. Most importantly, in conducting a TDF-based analysis of the barriers/facilitators affecting implementation, this review provides a theoretical basis by which researchers and policy-makers can design interventions to better target these problems in the future.


A protocol for this review was not registered.
Additional file 1: PRISMA Checklist. Completed PRISMA checklist indicating page number in manuscript of relevant content. (DOC 58 kb)
Additional file 4: TDF coding manual. TDF domains and definitions used to code barriers and facilitators. (DOCX 127 kb)
Additional file 7: Themed barriers and facilitators to DPA implementation by theoretical domain. Identified themes to implementation barriers and facilitators arranged by TDF domains. (DOCX 132 kb)
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