Policy interventions implemented through sporting organisations for promoting healthy behaviour change Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Sporting organisations provide an important setting for health promotion strategies that involve policies, communication of healthy messages and creation of health promoting environments. The introduction of policy interventions within sporting organisations is one strategy to target high risk behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption, excess sun exposure, unhealthy eating and discrimination. OBJECTIVES:To review all controlled evaluation studies of policy interventions organised through sporting settings to increase healthy behaviour (related to smoking, alcohol, healthy eating, sun protection, discrimination, safety and access). SEARCH STRATEGY:We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsyclNFO, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, Sociological Abstracts, Dissertation Abstracts, freely available online health promotion and sports-related databases hosted by leading agencies, and the internet using sport and policy-related key words. We identified further studies in the bibliographies of articles and by contacting authors of key articles in the area. SELECTION CRITERIA:We aimed to identify research that had used study designs that incorporated an evaluated intervention and comparison. Uncontrolled studies, meeting other inclusion criteria, were to be reported in an annex to the review. Types of studies: Studies in which sporting organisations were allocated to a policy intervention or control/comparison group. No minimum follow-up required. TYPES OF PARTICIPANTS:People of all ages. Types of interventions: Any policy intervention implemented through sporting organisations to instigate and/or sustain healthy behaviour change, intention to change behaviour, or changes in attitudes, knowledge or awareness of healthy behaviour. Policies must address any of the following: smoking, alcohol, healthy eating, sun protection, access for disadvantaged groups, physical safety (not including injuries), and social and emotional health (e.g.. anti-vilification, anti-discrimination). Types of outcome measures: Behaviour change, intention to change behaviour, change in attitudes, knowledge or awareness of healthy behaviour, and policy presence. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:We assessed whether identified citations were controlled evaluation studies and investigated the use of policy implemented in sporting settings. Abstracts were independently inspected by two reviewers and full papers were obtained where necessary. As no controlled evaluation studies were located, no data collection or analysis was undertaken. No uncontrolled studies meeting other inclusion criteria were identified and therefore no annex is presented. MAIN RESULTS:No rigorous studies were located to test the effectiveness of policy interventions organised through sporting organisations to increase healthy behaviours, attitudes, knowledge or inclusion of health oriented policies within the organisations. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:We were unable to find any controlled studies to guide the use of policy interventions used in sporting settings. The search process revealed a number of case studies with anecdotal reporting of outcomes. We strongly recommend that rigorous evaluation techniques are employed more commonly in this field to illuminate the impact of health promoting policy on outcomes, and the contexts and processes which are likely to be effective in reducing harmful behaviours.


  • Jackson, NW
  • Howes, FS
  • Gupta, S
  • Doyle, JL
  • Waters, E

publication date

  • January 1, 2005