Background: Sedentary behavior occurs largely subconsciously, and thus specific behavior change techniques are needed to increase conscious awareness of sedentary behavior. Chief amongst these behavior change techniques is self-monitoring of sedentary behavior. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the short-term effectiveness of existing interventions using self-monitoring to reduce sedentary behavior in adults.
Methods: Four electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and The Cochrane Library) and grey literature (Google Scholar and the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform) were searched to identify appropriate intervention studies. Only (cluster-)randomized controlled trials that 1) assessed the short-term effectiveness of an intervention aimed at the reduction of sedentary behavior, 2) used self-monitoring as a behavior change technique, and 3) were conducted in a sample of adults with an average age ≥ 18 years, were eligible for inclusion. Relevant data were extracted, and Hedge's g was used as the measure of effect sizes. Random effects models were performed to conduct the meta-analysis.
Results: Nineteen intervention studies with a total of 2800 participants met the inclusion criteria. Results of the meta-analyses showed that interventions using self-monitoring significantly reduced total sedentary time (Hedges g = 0,32; 95% CI = 0,14 - 0,50; p = 0,001) and occupational sedentary time (Hedge's g = 0,56; 95% CI = 0,07 - 0,90; p = 0,02) on the short term. Subgroup analyses showed that significant intervention effects were only found if objective self-monitoring tools were used (g = 0,40; 95% CI = 0,19 - 0,60; p < 0,001), and if the intervention only targeted sedentary behavior (g = 0,45; 95% CI = 0,15-0,75; p = 0,004). No significant intervention effects were found on the number of breaks in sedentary behavior.
Conclusions: Despite the small sample sizes, and the large heterogeneity, results of the current meta-analysis suggested that interventions using self-monitoring as a behavior change technique have the potential to reduce sedentary behavior in adults. If future - preferably large-scale studies - can prove that the reductions in sedentary behavior are attributable to self-monitoring and can confirm the sustainability of this behavior change, multi-level interventions including self-monitoring may impact public health by reducing sedentary behavior.
Keywords: Efficacy; Electronic devices; Program; Sedentary time; Sitting time.