Examining Best Strategies in Physical Activity Interventions for Adolescent Girls: A Systematic Review
Method: Eleven databases were included in the systematic search. The search was limited to scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles published between 2002 and February, 2013. A total of 21 summative evaluation studies on interventions with a PA component specifically for adolescent girls (mean sample age 9-19 years) were included in the review. Studies were assessed and given a score for methodological rigor using the Methodological Quality Rating Scale. Outcome attainment was determined by: 1) whether or not there was a statistically significant finding in the desired direction for PA and self-perception, and 2) whether a study showed above or below average methodological rigor.
Results: Interventions that had parental involvement were more effective at improving self-perceptions among the girls compared to interventions without parental involvement. Only nine of the total 21 interventions (42.9%) measured a self-perception outcome even though 15 of the 21 interventions (71.4%) contained psychosocial components. Interventions that addressed both psychosocial and behavioral skills were more effective at increasing girls’ PA compared to interventions that had a more physiological approach. Finally, interventions that sampled only high-risk girls were not as effective at increasing PA, but more effective at improving self-perceptions than the interventions that sampled the general population of girls.
Implications: The findings of this systematic review lend support for particular strategies involving parents, psychosocial and behavioral skills training, and sample selection for effectively increasing PA and improving self-perceptions among adolescent girls. When resources are sparse, these findings can aid social work researchers and practitioners in strategically selecting intervention components that will be most effective at narrowing the decline in PA among adolescent girls.