The evidence that higher levels of physical activity and/or lower levels of physical inactivity are associated with beneficial health-related outcomes stems mainly from observational studies. Findings from these studies often differ from randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews currently demonstrate mixed results. As a result, translation into clinical practice has been difficult. It is therefore essential that an overview is carried out to compare and contrast systematic reviews and to identify physical activity interventions that that are most effective in preventing and/or treating major chronic disease.
We will carry out the first overview of systematic reviews of physical activity interventions. Overviews are suggested as a logical and appropriate step for comparing and contrasting separate reviews and are particularly useful where there is ambiguity. We will search the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials that have a primary focus on disease-related outcomes. We will restrict reviews to those in selected major chronic diseases.
The primary outcomes of interest are the prevention of chronic disease and/or improved outcomes in the treatment of chronic disease. Secondary outcomes include the structure and delivery of physical activity interventions across chronic disease conditions, settings (focusing on primary care) and adverse events associated with physical activity. We anticipate that the results of our review could inform both national and global policies in this field. We will also use the results of this work to apply for funding leading to a randomised controlled trial of physical activity in primary care.
This review will be the start of a body of work that will address the optimal approach and strategy to delivering physical activity interventions in primary care. Specifically, the results of this review will provide clarification of the evidence for where physical activity has proven efficacy in preventing and/or treating chronic disease and where evidence is lacking. This information can be used to underpin management guidelines/policy for chronic disease and guide research activity in this field.
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