Physical activity on prescription schemes (PARS): do programme characteristics influence effectiveness? Results of a systematic review and meta-analyses

Jelena Arsenijevic*, Wim Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Background: Physical activity on prescription schemes (PARS) are health promotion programmes that have been implemented in various countries. The aim of this study was to outline the differences in the design of PARS in different countries. This study also explored the differences in the adherence rate to PARSand the self-reported level of physical activity between PARS users in different countries.

Method: A systematic literature review and meta-analyses were conducted. We searched PubMed and EBASCO in July 2015 and updated our search in September 2015. Studies that reported adherence to the programme and self-reported level of physical activity published in the English language in a peer-reviewed journal since 2000 were included. The difference in the pooled adherence rate after finishing the PARS programme and the adherence rate before or during the PARS programme was 17% (95% CI 9% to 24%). The difference in the pooled physical activity was 0.93 unit score (95 CI -3.57 to 1.71). For the adherence rate a meta-regression was conducted

Results: In total 37 studies conducted in 11 different countries met the inclusion criteria. Among them 31 reported the adherence rate while the levelof physical activity was reported in 17 studies.Results from meta-analyses show that PARS had an effect on the adherence rate of physical activity while the results from the meta-regressions show that programme characteristics such as type of chronic disease and the follow-up period influenced the adherence rate.

Conclusions: The effects of PARS on adherence and self-reported physical activity were influenced by programme characteristics and also by the design of the study. Future studies on the effectiveness of PARS should use a prospective longitudinal design and combine quantitative and qualitative data. Furthermore future evaluation studies should distinguish between evaluating the adherence rate and the self-reported physical activity among participants with different chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere012156
Number of pages13
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017



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