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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT AND PREVENTION OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Engaging parents to increase youth physical activity: A systematic review

Authors
item O'Connor, Teresia -
item Jago, Russell -
item Baranowski, Tom -

Submitted to: American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2009
Publication Date: August 1, 2009
Citation: O'Connor, T.M., Jago, R., Baranowski, T. 2009. Engaging parents to increase youth physical activity: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 37(2):141-149.

Interpretive Summary: Parents are often involved in interventions to engage youth in physical activity, but it is not clear which methods for involving parents are effective. A systematic review was conducted of interventions with physical activity and parental components among healthy youth to identify how best to involve parents in physical activity interventions for children. Intervention studies were reviewed in 2008, and the quality of reporting for the randomized controlled trials was assessed using a validated checklist for reporting on non-pharmacologic studies. The literature search identified 35 articles that met review criteria. Fourteen of these studies were randomized controlled trials, and only 5 of them were assessed as high quality studies. Five general procedures for involving parents were identified: (1) face-to-face educational programs or parent training, (2) family participatory exercise programs, (3) telephone communication, (4) organized activities, and (5) educational materials sent home. Due to the variety of methods used for designing studies and measuring the physical activity outcomes, we were unable to draw systematic conclusions. However, interventions with educational or training programs during family visits or via telephone communication with parents appear to offer some promise and should be explored further. There is a need to improve study designs and use appropriate measurement of children's physical activity to assess the effectiveness of physical activity programs for youth. We also need to increase our understanding for what factors influence children to be physically active to better design future family-based physical activity interventions.

Technical Abstract: Parents are often involved in interventions to engage youth in physical activity, but it is not clear which methods for involving parents are effective. A systematic review was conducted of interventions with physical activity and parental components among healthy youth to identify how best to involve parents in physical activity interventions for children. Identified intervention studies were reviewed in 2008 for study design, description of family components, and physical activity outcomes. The quality of reporting was assessed using the CONSORT checklist for reporting on trials of nonpharmacologic treatments. The literature search identified 1227 articles, 35 of which met review criteria. Five of the 14 RCTs met > or =70% of CONSORT checklist items. Five general procedures for involving parents were identified: (1) face-to-face educational programs or parent training, (2) family participatory exercise programs, (3) telephone communication, (4) organized activities, and (5) educational materials sent home. Lack of uniformity in reporting trials, multiple pilot studies, and varied measurements of physical activity outcomes prohibited systematic conclusions. Interventions with educational or training programs during family visits or via telephone communication with parents appear to offer some promise. There is little evidence for effectiveness of family involvement methods in programs for promoting physical activity in children, because of the heterogeneity of study design, study quality, and outcome measures used. There is a need to build an evidence base of more-predictive models of child physical activity that include parent and child mediating variables and procedures that can effect changes in these variables for future family-based physical activity interventions.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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