Digital interventions (DIs) could support physical activity (PA) promotion, according to recent reviews. However, it remains unclear if and how DIs for PA promotion are evaluated; thus, it is unclear if they support behavior change in real-world settings. A mapping of evidence from published reviews is required to focus on the evaluation of DIs for PA promotion.
The aim of our study is to investigate evaluation strategies for any outcome in the context of DIs for PA promotion by conducting a scoping review of published reviews.
Our scoping review adheres to the PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews) guidelines. The information sources include bibliographic databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and CINAHL) and the bibliographies of the selected studies. The electronic search strategy was developed and conducted in collaboration with an experienced database specialist. The electronic search was conducted in English with no limits up to March 19, 2021, for sources with the terms digital intervention AND evaluation AND physical activity in titles or abstracts. After deduplication, 300 reviews selected from 4912 search results were assessed for eligibility by 2 authors working independently. The inclusion criteria were (1) healthy or clinical samples (population), (2) DIs for PA promotion (intervention), (3) comparisons to any other intervention or no intervention (comparison), (4) evaluation strategies (methods, results, or frameworks) for any outcome in the context of DIs for PA promotion (outcome), and (5) any published review (study type). According to the consensus reached during a discussion, 40 reviews met the inclusion criteria—36 from the electronic search and 4 from the manual search of the bibliographies of the 36 reviews. All reviews reported the evaluation strategies for any outcomes in the context of DIs for PA promotion in healthy or clinical samples. Data coding and the quality appraisal of systematic reviews are currently being performed independently by 2 authors.
Our scoping review includes data from 40 published reviews (1 rapid review, 9 scoping reviews, and 30 systematic reviews). The focus of data coding is on evaluation strategies in the context of DIs for PA promotion and on the critical appraisal of the included systematic reviews. The final consensus regarding all data is expected in early 2022.
Interventions for PA promotion that are supported by digital technologies require evaluation to ensure their efficacy in real-world settings. Our scoping review is needed because it addresses novel objectives that focus on such evaluations and are not answered in the published reviews identified in our search. The evaluation strategies addressing DIs for PA promotion will be mapped to synthesize the results that have been reported in published reviews so far.