Effectiveness of behavioural interventions with motivational interviewing on physical activity outcomes in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis

AbstractObjectiveTo evaluate the effectiveness of behavioural interventions that include motivational interviewing on physical activity outcomes in adults.DesignSystematic review and meta-analysis.Study selectionA search of seven databases for randomised controlled trials published from inception to 1 March 2023 comparing a behavioural intervention including motivational interviewing with a comparator without motivational interviewing on physical activity outcomes in adults. Outcomes of interest were differences in change in quantitative measures of total physical activity, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and sedentary time.Data extraction and synthesisTwo reviewers extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Population characteristics, intervention components, comparison groups, and outcomes of studies were summarised. For overall main effects, random effects meta-analyses were used to report standardised mean differences (SMDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Differential effects based on duration of follow-up, comparator type, intervention duration, and disease or health condition of participants were also examined.Results129 papers reporting 97 randomised controlled trials totalling 27 811 participants and 105 comparisons were included. Interventions including motivational interviewing were superior to comparators for increases in total physical activity (SMD 0.45, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.65, equivalent to 1323 extra steps/day; low certainty evidence) and MVPA (0.45, 0.19 to 0.71, equivalent to 95 extra min/week; very low certainty evidence) and for reductions in sedentary time (−0.58, −1.03 to −0.14, equivalent to −51 min/day; very low certainty evidence). Evidence for a difference in any outcome compared with comparators of similar intensity was lacking. The magnitude of effect diminished over time, and evidence of an effect of motivational interviewing beyond one year was lacking. Most interventions involved patients with a specific health condition, and evidence of an effect of motivational interviewing to increase MVPA or decrease sedentary time was lacking in general population samples.ConclusionsCertainty of the evidence using motivational interviewing as part of complex behavioural interventions for promoting total physical activity in adults was low, and for MVPA and sedentary time was very low. The totality of evidence suggests that although interventions with motivational interviewing increase physical activity and decrease sedentary behaviour, no difference was found in studies where the effect of motivational interviewing could be isolated. Effectiveness waned over time, with no evidence of a benefit of motivational interviewing to increase physical activity beyond one year.Systematic review registrationPROSPERO CRD42020219881.
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