To identify trials of home-based health behaviour change interventions for frail older people, describe intervention content and explore its potential contribution to intervention effects.
15 bibliographic databases, and reference lists and citations of key papers, were searched for randomised controlled trials of home-based behavioural interventions reporting behavioural or health outcomes.
Trials were coded for effects on thematically clustered behavioural, health and well-being outcomes. Intervention content was described using 96 behaviour change techniques, and 9 functions (eg, education, environmental restructuring).
19 eligible trials reported 22 interventions. Physical functioning was most commonly assessed (19 interventions). Behavioural outcomes were assessed for only 4 interventions. Effectiveness on most outcomes was limited, with at most 50% of interventions showing potential positive effects on behaviour, and 42% on physical functioning. 3 techniques (instruction on how to perform behaviour, adding objects to environment, restructuring physical environment) and 2 functions (education and enablement) were more commonly found in interventions showing potential than those showing no potential to improve physical function. Intervention content was not linked to effectiveness on other outcomes.
Interventions appeared to have greatest impact on physical function where they included behavioural instructions, environmental modification and practical social support. Yet, mechanisms of effects are unclear, because impact on behavioural outcomes has rarely been considered. Moreover, the robustness of our findings is also unclear, because interventions have been poorly reported. Greater engagement with behavioural science is needed when developing and evaluating home-based health interventions.