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Prev Med Rep. 2017 Aug 15;8:72-78. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2017.08.006. eCollection 2017 Dec.

The cost-effectiveness of physical activity interventions: A systematic review of reviews.

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Gebbertstraße 123b, 91058 Erlangen, Germany.
Heslington, York YO10 5DD, United Kingdom.



Despite growing recognition of the need to promote physical activity, the existing evidence base on the cost-effectiveness of relevant interventions appears scant and scattered. This systematic review of reviews set out to take stock of the evidence on the cost-effectiveness of physical activity interventions.


Ten literature databases were systematically searched for available reviews on the cost-effectiveness of physical activity interventions, complemented by a hand search. Out of the 515 articles identified, 18 reviews met the inclusion criteria. A quality appraisal of the 18 reviews was undertaken.


Of the 18 reviews, 4 contained information on the target group of children and adolescents, 12 on adults, 3 on older adults, and 6 on the general population. Across the reviews some intervention strategies were identified as being particularly cost-effective, including certain school-based interventions (children and adolescents), interventions using pedometers (adults), fall prevention programs (older people), mass media campaigns and environmental approaches (general population). However, for some of these approaches (e.g. mass media campaigns), the underlying evidence of being able to change physical activity behavior remains inconsistent.


Available evidence for the cost-effectiveness of physical activity interventions is scattered, but points towards the cost-effectiveness of certain interventions. Until this moment, cost-effectiveness has more often been studied for individual-level interventions. This is potentially due to some methodological challenges in assessing the cost-effectiveness of population-based interventions.


Cost-effectiveness; Costs; Health-economic; Physical activity; Physical activity intervention; Review; Review of reviews; Systematic review

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