Aim: This review examined evidence regarding computer- or web-based interventions to increase preadolescent and adolescent physical activity.
Background: Today's youth are less active and more overweight than their counterparts from 25 years ago. Overweight youth tend to become overweight adults with weight-related maladies, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Interventions to increase physical activity that reach a large audience are needed. Computer- and web-based physical activity interventions are an appealing means to influence physical activity in preadolescents and adolescents. However, their effectiveness must be determined.
Data sources: The following electronic databases were searched for studies published from 1998 through 2010: CINAHL, PubMed, PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts, SportDISCUS and Proquest.
Review methods: A systemic review was conducted. Fourteen randomized control trials or quasi-experimental studies were reviewed to: (1) determine the effect of computer- or web-based interventions on increasing physical activity and/or improving body mass index, weight, percent body fat or waist circumference as a result of increasing physical activity; and (2) examine if additional components associated with these interventions increased success.
Results: Although most interventions demonstrated statistically significant increases in physical activity or positive health changes related to physical activity, findings were small or short-lived. The value of conducting the interventions at school, using a theory or model as a framework, and supplementing with individual tailoring and parental involvement, is discussed.
Conclusion: Computer- and web-based interventions can promote physical activity among preadolescents and adolescents, particularly in schools. However, further efforts are needed to sustain positive changes.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Advanced Nursing © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.