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OBJECTIVES: To conduct a systematic review of interventions used to improve exercise adherence in older people, to assess the effectiveness of these interventions and to evaluate the behavioural change techniques underpinning them using the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy (BCTT). DESIGN: Systematic review. METHODS: A search was conducted on AMED, BNI, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsychINFO databases. Randomised controlled trials that used an intervention to aid exercise adherence and an exercise adherence outcome for older people were included. Data were extracted with the use of a preprepared standardised form. Risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias. Interventions were classified according to the BCTT. RESULTS: Eleven studies were included in the review. Risk of bias was moderate to high. Interventions were classified into the following categories: comparison of behaviour, feedback and monitoring, social support, natural consequences, identity and goals and planning. Four studies reported a positive adherence outcome following their intervention. Three of these interventions were categorised in the feedback and monitoring category. Four studies used behavioural approaches within their study. These were social learning theory, socioemotional selectivity theory, cognitive behavioural therapy and self-efficacy. Seven studies did not report a behavioural approach. CONCLUSIONS: Interventions in the feedback and monitoring category showed positive outcomes, although there is insufficient evidence to recommend their use currently. There is need for better reporting, use and the development of theoretically derived interventions in the field of exercise adherence for older people. Robust measures of adherence, in order to adequately test these interventions would also be of use. PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42015020884.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmj open

Publication Date





adherence, behaviour change, behaviour change technique taxonomy, compliance, exercise, older people, Aged, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exercise, Feedback, Psychological, Humans, Patient Compliance, Physical Therapy Modalities, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Self Efficacy, Social Support