Family caregivers are an important health care resource and represent a significant proportion of Canadian and US populations. Family caregivers suffer physical and psychological health problems because of being in the caregiver role. Interventions to support caregiver health, including physical activity (PA), are slow to be investigated and translated into practice.
To examine the evidence for PA interventions in caregivers and determine factors hampering the uptake of this evidence into practice.
A systematic review and evaluation of internal and external validity using the RE-AIM (Reach, Efficacy/Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance) framework was conducted. Randomized controlled trials or pretest/posttest studies of PA interventions were included.
Fourteen studies were published between 1997 and 2015. Methodological quality of studies and risk of bias was variable. External validity criteria were often not reported. Mean reporting levels were 1) reach, 53%; 2) efficacy/effectiveness, 73%; 3) adoption, 18%; 4) implementation, 48%; and 5) maintenance, 2%.
The lack of reporting of components of internal and external validity hinders the integration of caregiver PA interventions into clinical or community settings. Researchers should focus on standardized outcomes, accepted reporting criteria, and balancing factors of internal and external validity, to advance the state of the science.