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A Review of the Impact of Sporting Role Model-Led Interventions on Physical Activity and Sport Participation of Female Youth

Eimear Kelly, Katie Liston, Kieran Dowd, and Aoife Lane

There is a lack of evidence of on the impact of how sporting role models (SRM) influence adolescent physical activity (PA) and/or sport participation (SP) levels. The main aim of this review was to identify SRM-led interventions and highlight the evidence of impact of SRMs on female adolescents’ participation in PA and/or SP. A systematic review of peer-reviewed literature using key search terms was completed using electronic databases (APA PsycInfo, SPORTDiscus, and PubMed). The inclusion criteria were as follows: (a) Participants were ≤18 years old, (b) results were reported for female participants, (c) the study included an intervention arm/element, (d) an SRM or equivalent terminology was used as part of the intervention, (e) PA levels and/or SP was evaluated, and (f) peer-reviewed articles published in English. A total of 7,169 peer-reviewed articles were identified and screened. A systematic review of grey literature to identify SRM programs was also carried out through Google search engine, direct contact with relevant sporting organizations, and with authors who had written about role models, and 45 programs were identified. Identified documents were screened using the same inclusion criteria as described above. The results identified one peer-reviewed and 15 grey literature programs, all of which were deemed to be of poor quality. The programs revealed a lack of theoretical base and rigor in methodology, no objective PA or SP assessment, poor demographic context of participants and role models, and lack of evaluation.