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Exploring adults’ experiences of sedentary behaviour and participation in non-workplace interventions designed to reduce sedentary behaviour: A thematic synthesis of qualitative studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number1099 (2019)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2019


Sedentary behaviour is any waking behaviour characterised by an energy expenditure of ≤1.5 metabolic equivalent of task while in a sitting or reclining posture. Prolonged bouts of sedentary behaviour have been associated with negative health outcomes in all age groups. We examined qualitative research investigating perceptions and experiences of sedentary behaviour and of participation in non-workplace interventions designed to reduce sedentary behaviour in adult populations.
A systematic search of seven databases (MEDLINE, AMED, Cochrane, PsychINFO, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL and Web of Science) was conducted in September 2017. Studies were assessed for methodological quality and a thematic synthesis was conducted. Prospero database ID: CRD42017083436.
Thirty individual studies capturing the experiences of 918 individuals were included. Eleven studies examined experiences and/or perceptions of sedentary behaviour in older adults (typically ≥60 years); ten studies focused on sedentary behaviour in people experiencing a clinical condition, four explored influences on sedentary behaviour in adults living in socio-economically disadvantaged communities, two examined university students’ experiences of sedentary behaviour, two on those of working-age adults, and one focused on cultural influences on sedentary behaviour. Three analytical themes were identified: 1) the impact of different life stages on sedentary behaviour 2) lifestyle factors influencing sedentary behaviour and 3) barriers and facilitators to changing sedentary behaviour.
Sedentary behaviour is multifaceted and influenced by a complex interaction between individual, environmental and socio-cultural factors. Micro and macro pressures are experienced at different life stages and in the context of illness; these shape individuals’ beliefs and behaviour related to sedentariness. Knowledge of sedentary behaviour and the associated health consequences appears limited in adult populations, therefore there is a need for provision of accessible information about ways in which sedentary behaviour reduction can be integrated in people’s daily lives. Interventions targeting a reduction in sedentary behaviour need to consider the multiple influences on sedentariness when designing and implementing interventions.

    Research areas

  • sedentary behaviour, thematic synthesis, physical activity, qualitative research, sitting

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