Process evaluations of health-promotion interventions in sports settings: a systematic review

Publication Name

Health promotion international


Sports settings have been identified as an ideal place to conduct complex multi-level health-promotion interventions, with the potential to engage a broad audience. Whilst the benefits of delivering health-promotion interventions in sports settings are well documented, such interventions' real-world implementation and success must be better understood. Process evaluations can be conducted to provide information related to an intervention's fidelity, replication, scaling, adoption, and the underlying mechanisms driving outcomes. This systematic review summarizes how process evaluations of health-promotion interventions are conducted in sports settings and highlight facilitators and barriers to health-promotion intervention delivery using narrative synthesis. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines, searches included original peer-reviewed articles from inception-January 2023. We searched eight electronic databases: Academic Search Complete; MEDLINE, PsycARTICLES; PsycINFO; SPORTSDiscus with Full Text; MEDLINE; SCOPUS; Pub Med, and Pro Quest Central. Thirty-two studies were included. Findings suggest that most process evaluations of health-promotion interventions have acknowledged the inherent complexity of sports settings, and investigated factors that explain their intervention's success (e.g. trust building, engagement). However, poor use of process evaluation frameworks or guidelines resulted in wide variations of how process evaluations are conducted and reported, which made findings difficult to integrate and standardize with consistency. Accordingly, this review provides a guide on how future process evaluations can be conducted to improve health-promotion interventions' transparency, replicability and reliability in real-world settings.

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