Although physical activity interventions have been shown to effectively modify behavior, little research has examined the potential of these interventions for adoption in real-world settings. The purpose of this literature review was to evaluate the external validity of 57 theory-based physical activity interventions using the RE-AIM framework. The physical activity interventions included were more likely to report on issues of internal, rather than external validity and on individual, rather than organizational components of the RE-AIM framework, making the translation of many interventions into practice difficult. Furthermore, most studies included motivated, healthy participants, thus reducing the generalizability of the interventions to real-world settings that provide services to more diverse populations. To determine if a given intervention is feasible and effective in translational research, more information should be reported about the factors that affect external validity.
Iina Antikainen and Rebecca Ellis are with the Department of Kinesiology and Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.