PHRC Phase 2 (2011-2019) projects – Projects related to multiple risk behaviours

Systematic reviews of interventions tackling multiple risk behaviours: filling evidence gaps

Lead investigator

Professor Amanda Sowden, CRD, University of York


Lifestyle behaviours are major drivers of ill health and interventions that support people to make healthy choices have huge potential to alter current patterns of disease and reduce inequalities. Synthesised evidence can help policy makers intervene effectively to promote the adoption of healthy lifestyles and improve the public’s health and wellbeing. Although systematic reviews of behavioural interventions are available gaps in the evidence base remain.

Aims, methods and contribution

To undertake two systematic reviews that address identified gaps in the evidence base. One review compared the effectiveness of interventions targeting multiple versus single risk behaviours in general adult populations and the other assessed the effects of interventions targeting multiple risk behaviours in populations who are overweight or obese. In both, we assessed the extent to which the effects of interventions differ according to participant characteristics including socio-economic status and ethnicity.

Reviews would increase knowledge and improve understanding of how to effectively intervene to reduce behaviours that are damaging to health.

Systematic reviews were conducted in accordance with current guidance including registering protocols with PROSPERO and using reporting consistent with the PRISMA E statement.
Tackling unhealthy behaviours, such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking and harmful drinking is a national public health priority and new approaches to motivate and support people to make changes have been called for. [Public Health England, 2014] Any new approaches should build on existing research evidence, ideally synthesised using systematic review methods. Where knowledge gaps are identified these should be filled by new research. This will help to ensure that current public health policy and practice is supported by best available evidence.


Duration: 01/04/2016 – 30/09/2017 (18 months)