Involving Older Adults in Developing Physical Activity Interventions to Promote Engagement: a Literature Review

Elisabeth R Boulton, Maria Horne, Chris Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical activity (PA) is associated with health benefits, with policy across the world focussing on increasing participation. Yet uptake and adherence to PA amongst older adults remains below the recommended 150 min/week. This review aims to identify how older adults have been involved in the design, delivery, implementation and promotion of interventions to promote PA uptake and adherence, and whether there are any recorded benefits of this involvement. Systematic searches of CINAHL,Embase, HMIC, MEDLINE, PsychINFO, Social Policy and Practice and the SSCI were undertaken. Inclusion/exclusion criteria were: (i) Original research;(ii) older adults, 50+; (iii) community dwelling; (iv) involvement in design,delivery, implementation or promotion of interventions. A narrative synthesis often studies is presented, following systematic methods, reporting study design and intervention type; participants and context; nature of involvement; effectiveness of interventions. Six different types of involvement were evident: (i)consultation; (ii) cooperation; (iii) co-learning; (iv) collaboration; (v) peer leadership and (vi) mentoring. Levels of success were reported, yet specific factors were difficult to isolate. The studies reported complex interventions which were reported as successful. However, it is difficult to state whether success was a result of the older adults’involvement, as the benefits of involving older adults were not tracked or reported. Future research should be clear about the nature of involvement, the context in which research takes place, and the description of action and outcomes. Policy makers should consider the advantages to be gained from involving older adults in intervention development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Population Ageing
Early online date24 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Physical activity
  • older adults
  • Engagement
  • User involvement


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