The effectiveness of strategies to promote walking in people with musculoskeletal disorders

a systematic review with meta-analysis

Bruno T. Saragiotto, Iuri Fioratti, Anne Tiedemann, Mark J. Hancock, Tiê P. Yamato, Samuel S. Y. Wang, Josephine Y. Chau, Chung-Wei Christine Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of walking promotion strategies on physical activity, pain, and function in people with musculoskeletal disorders. DESIGN: Intervention systematic review with meta-analysis. LITERATURE SEARCH: We performed the searches in MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) from inception to August 2019. STUDY SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomized controlled trials evaluating interventions that promote walking in people with musculoskeletal disorders. DATA SYNTHESIS: We used the PEDro scale for assessing risk of bias and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach to evaluate the quality of evidence. We expressed pooled effects for between-group differences as mean differences or standardized mean differences and 95% confidence intervals, or as risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals, using random-effects meta-analyses. RESULTS: Twelve eligible trials (n = 1456 participants) were identified. There was moderate- to very low-quality evidence of no difference in physical activity levels for walking promotion interventions when compared to minimal interventions, and a significant effect favoring walking promotion when compared with usual care in the short term. There was moderate-quality evidence that walking promotion was modestly effective for reducing pain and improving function compared with minimal intervention and usual care. There was no difference in pain and function for walking promotion compared to supervised exercise. Walking promotion was not associated with different rates of adverse events compared to control conditions. CONCLUSION: Strategies to promote walking did not increase physical activity in people with musculoskeletal disorders. Walking promotion was associated with small improvements in pain and function compared to minimal intervention and usual care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-606
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • chronic pain
  • health promotion
  • physical activity

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