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One small step for man, one giant leap for men’s health: a meta-analysis of behaviour change interventions to increase men’s physical activity
  1. Paul Sharp1,
  2. John C Spence2,
  3. Joan L Bottorff3,4,
  4. John L Oliffe5,
  5. Kate Hunt6,
  6. Mathew Vis-Dunbar7,
  7. Cristina M Caperchione1,3
  1. 1Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Sedentary Living Lab, Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  3. 3Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
  5. 5School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  6. 6Institute for Social Marketing, Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  7. 7Library, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Paul Sharp, Human Performance Research Centre, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia;{at}


Objective To determine the effects of behaviour change interventions on men’s physical activity (postintervention), sustained change in physical activity behaviour (≥12 months postintervention) and to identify variations in effects due to potential moderating variables (eg, theoretical underpinning, gender-tailored, contact frequency).

Design Systematic review with meta-analysis. Pooled effect size (Cohen’s d) was calculated assuming a random-effects model. Homogeneity and subsequent exploratory moderator analyses were assessed using Q, T2 and I2.

Data sources Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, SportDiscus and Web of Science to April 2019.

Eligibility criteria for selected studies Randomised control trials of behaviour change interventions in men (≥18 years) where physical activity was an outcome and data were from men-only studies or disaggregated by sex.

Results Twenty-six articles described 24 eligible studies. The overall mean intervention effect on men’s physical activity was 0.35 (SE=0.05; 95% CI 0.26 to 0.45; p<0.001). This effect size is consistent with an increase of approximately 97 min of total physical activity per week or 980 steps per day. Intervention moderators associated with greater increases in physical activity included objective physical activity outcome measures, a gender-tailored design, use of a theoretical framework, shorter length programmes (≤12 weeks), using four or more types of behaviour change techniques and frequent contact with participants (≥1 contact per week). 12 studies included additional follow-up assessments (≥12 months postintervention) and the overall mean effect was 0.32 (SE=0.09; 95% CI 0.15 to 0.48; p<0.001) for that sustained increase in physical activity.

Summary Behaviour change interventions targeting men’s physical activity can be effective. Moderator analyses are preliminary and suggest research directions.

  • physical activity
  • randomised controlled trial
  • intervention
  • meta-analysis
  • male
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  • Twitter @paulgsharp

  • Contributors PS, JCS, JLB, JLO, KH, MVD and CMC helped conceive the project and PS and JCS were responsible for project management. PS, MVD and CMC determined the search strategy and oversaw the screening of articles. PS and JCS were responsible for data extraction, analysis and interpretation. PS and CMC undertook quality assessment. All authors participated in the study design, drafting of the manuscript and critical revisions. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding PS is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Programme Scholarship.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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