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01.12.2014 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

BMC Family Practice 1/2014

Interventions aimed at increasing the level of physical activity by including organised follow-up: a systematic review of effect

BMC Family Practice > Ausgabe 1/2014
Eva Denison, Gunn E Vist, Vigdis Underland, Rigmor C Berg
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1471-2296-15-120) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Gunn E Vist, Vigdis Underland and Rigmor C Berg contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

ED participated in the design, study selection, data extraction and synthesis of the review. ED also hand searched journals and drafted the manuscript. GEV participated in the design, study selection, data extraction and synthesis of the review and helped draft the manuscript. VU participated in the study selection, data extraction, and synthesis. RCB participated in the study selection and data extraction. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Organised follow-up is a common feature of several strategies at the primary health care level to promote health behaviour change, e.g. to increase physical activity. In Norway, municipal ‘healthy living’ centres run by health care personnel are established to offer counselling and organised follow-up of health behaviour change during a 12-week programme. We report the results of a systematic review commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate of Health concerning organised follow-up to improve physical activity.


We searched ten electronic databases up to June 2012, reference lists of included publications, and relevant journals. Study selection and quality risk of bias assessment were carried out independently. Data were synthesised narratively due to heterogeneity of measurements of physical activity. The GRADE approach was used to assess our confidence in the effect estimate for each outcome in each comparison.


Fourteen randomised controlled trials from seven countries and with a total of 5,002 participants were included in the systematic review. All studies were carried out in primary care or community settings. The interventions comprised referral to supervised group physical activity (2 studies), referral to local resources with follow-up (6 studies), and self-organised physical activity with follow-up (6 studies). The narrative synthesis, comprising a total of 39 comparisons, indicated effects of self-organised physical activity with follow-up (compared to both advice and no treatment) and referral to local resources with follow-up (compared to advice) in some of the comparisons where we rated our confidence in the effect estimates as moderate. However, the results indicated no difference between intervention and control groups for the majority of comparisons. Follow-up in the studies was mainly short-term with the longest follow-up 9 months post-treatment. We rated our confidence in the effect estimates as low or very low in most comparisons, both for positive and neutral results.


The results of this systematic review indicate considerable uncertainty concerning effects of organised follow-up during 10–14 weeks on physical activity. Major methodological problems concerning the measurement of physical activity are discussed.

Trial registration

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42011001598.
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