A research study, believed to be the first of its kind, has explored the effectiveness of digital technologies used as interventions for increasing physical activity, with the analysis focusing on the effectiveness based on socioeconomic status.
The study, entitled: ‘The effectiveness of digital interventions for increasing physical activity in individuals of low socioeconomic status: a systematic review and meta-analysis’, was published this week, highlighting results of the approach [digital intervention] not equivalently effective based on socioeconomic status.
14,589 records were initially identified by the researchers, and 19 studies were included in the final meta-analysis. The studies included a range of digital technologies and behaviour change techniques, but the findings remained consistent across the sub-types.
The researchers noted: “Increasing access to such technologies makes an attractive prospect for helping individuals of low socioeconomic status in becoming more active and healthier. However, little is known about their effectiveness in such populations.
“The aim of this systematic review was to explore whether digital interventions were effective in promoting physical activity in low socioeconomic status populations, whether interventions are of equal benefit to higher socioeconomic status individuals and whether the number or type of behaviour change techniques used in digital physical activity interventions was associated with intervention effects.”
Through their analysis, the researchers said they demonstrated that, at present, digital interventions targeting physical activity are not equivalently effective for people of low and high socioeconomic status. They followed to say, “specifically, there is very little evidence that digital physical interventions have any efficacy for people of low socioeconomic status, but moderate efficacy for those of high socioeconomic status.”
The researchers do note that increasing access to information, communication and wearable technology amongst even the most vulnerable people has led to digital interventions being championed as a tool for reducing inequalities in health promotion – however, this study focuses on the context of physical activity and outlines a recommendation that future development of digital interventions in this area, must make more effort to meet the needs.
The researchers concluded: “To reduce inequalities and improve effectiveness, future development of digital interventions aimed at improving physical activity must make more effort to meet the needs of low SES people within the target population.”
To read the study in full, please click here.
Reference: Western, M.J., Armstrong, M.E.G., Islam, I. et al. The effectiveness of digital interventions for increasing physical activity in individuals of low socioeconomic status: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 18, 148 (2021).