Interventions to enhance adherence to dietary advice for preventing and managing chronic diseases in adults

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Feb 28;(2):CD008722. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008722.pub2.


Background: It has been recognized that poor adherence can be a serious risk to the health and wellbeing of patients, and greater adherence to dietary advice is a critical component in preventing and managing chronic diseases.

Objectives: To assess the effects of interventions for enhancing adherence to dietary advice for preventing and managing chronic diseases in adults.

Search methods: We searched the following electronic databases up to 29 September 2010: The Cochrane Library (issue 9 2010), PubMed, EMBASE (, CINAHL (Ebsco) and PsycINFO (PsycNET) with no language restrictions. We also reviewed: a) recent years of relevant conferences, symposium and colloquium proceedings and abstracts; b) web-based registries of clinical trials; and c) the bibliographies of included studies.

Selection criteria: We included randomized controlled trials that evaluated interventions enhancing adherence to dietary advice for preventing and managing chronic diseases in adults. Studies were eligible if the primary outcome was the client's adherence to dietary advice. We defined 'client' as an adult participating in a chronic disease prevention or chronic disease management study involving dietary advice.

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed the eligibility of the studies. They also assessed the risk of bias and extracted data using a modified version of the Cochrane Consumers and Communication Review Group data extraction template. Any discrepancies in judgement were resolved by discussion and consensus, or with a third review author. Because the studies differed widely with respect to interventions, measures of diet adherence, dietary advice, nature of the chronic diseases and duration of interventions and follow-up, we conducted a qualitative analysis. We classified included studies according to the function of the intervention and present results in a narrative table using vote counting for each category of intervention.

Main results: We included 38 studies involving 9445 participants. Among studies that measured diet adherence outcomes between an intervention group and a control/usual care group, 32 out of 123 diet adherence outcomes favoured the intervention group, 4 favoured the control group whereas 62 had no significant difference between groups (assessment was impossible for 25 diet adherence outcomes since data and/or statistical analyses needed for comparison between groups were not provided). Interventions shown to improve at least one diet adherence outcome are: telephone follow-up, video, contract, feedback, nutritional tools and more complex interventions including multiple interventions. However, these interventions also shown no difference in some diet adherence outcomes compared to a control/usual care group making inconclusive results about the most effective intervention to enhance dietary advice. The majority of studies reporting a diet adherence outcome favouring the intervention group compared to the control/usual care group in the short-term also reported no significant effect at later time points. Studies investigating interventions such as a group session, individual session, reminders, restriction and behaviour change techniques reported no diet adherence outcome showing a statistically significant difference favouring the intervention group. Finally, studies were generally of short duration and low quality, and adherence measures varied widely.

Authors' conclusions: There is a need for further, long-term, good-quality studies using more standardized and validated measures of adherence to identify the interventions that should be used in practice to enhance adherence to dietary advice in the context of a variety of chronic diseases.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Counseling / methods
  • Diet Therapy / methods
  • Dietetics / methods*
  • Health Education / methods
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic