Publication: A systematic review of the use and reporting of evaluation frameworks within evaluations of PA interventions

Research Impact:  Several frameworks and guidance documents have been developed to facilitate the evaluation and reporting of evaluation studies in public health. Despite this, there is a lack of evidence regarding the use of such frameworks to guide evaluation. The aim of this systematic review was to assess the use and quality of reporting regarding evaluation frameworks within evaluation studies of physical activity. For this, a checklist of indicators was developed to enable the critical appraisal of the use and reporting of different evaluation frameworks.

The review identified 292 evaluation studies with 69 (23%) mentioning use of an evaluation framework. Of these 69 studies, 51 (74%) were explicitly based on the stated framework, but only 26 studies (38%) provided a detailed description consistently across all indicators. Additionally, only 17 studies (25%) described adaptions in how the framework had been used.

Evaluation frameworks can facilitate a more systematic evaluation report but there limited use suggests a missed opportunity to apply frameworks to guide evaluation and reporting in evaluation studies. The variability in the quality of reporting found in the identified studies limits the comparability and transferability of evidence. This means that critical evidence that could be used to inform interventions to support the health of the population is not making it into the public domain. The checklist of indicators developed can be used by those reporting an evaluation to guide them in developing a systematic evaluation report, and by reviewers and journal editors to appraise evaluation studies that have reported the use of an evaluation framework.

Flynn, J., Hardeman, W., Milton, K., Murphy, J., & Jones, A. (2020). A systematic review of the use and reporting of evaluation frameworks within evaluations of physical activity interventions. DOI: 10.1186/s12966-020-01013-7

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