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Physical Activity: Transportation and Travel Policies and Practices

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What the Task Force Found

About The Systematic Review

The Task Force finding is based on evidence from a systematic review of 1 study (search period 1990 – 1998).

The review was conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice, and policy related to increasing physical activity.

Context

There is no information for this section.

Summary of Results

More details about study results are available in the published evidence review.

  • An intervention made free transit available to university students. After 6 months, 57% more students chose walking over driving, and after 1 year, 14% were still walking instead of driving.

Summary of Economic Evidence

An economic review of this intervention was not conducted because the Task Force did not have enough information to determine if the intervention works.

Applicability

Applicability of this intervention across different settings and populations was not assessed because the Task Force did not have enough information to determine if the intervention works.

Evidence Gaps

Additional research and evaluation are needed to answer the following questions and fill existing gaps in the evidence base. (What are evidence gaps?)

  • What community characteristics are needed for the best use of policy and environmental interventions?
  • Does the effectiveness vary by type of access (e.g., worksite facility or community facility) or socioeconomic group?
  • How can the necessary political and societal support for this type of intervention be created or increased?
  • Does creating or improving access motivate sedentary people to become more active, give those who are already active an increased opportunity to be active, or both?
  • What behavioral changes not involving physical activity can be associated with changes in physical activity?
  • Does an increase in the use of public transportation mean an increase in physical activity or will users drive to the transit stop?
  • Can reliable and valid measures be developed to address the entire spectrum of physical activity, including light or moderate activity?
  • Does the level or scale of the intervention significantly change its effectiveness?
  • What are the most effective ways to maintain physical activity levels once the initial behavior change has happened?
  • Do informational approaches to increasing physical activity help to increase health knowledge? Is it necessary to increase knowledge or improve attitudes toward physical activity to increase physical activity levels?
  • Do these interventions increase awareness of opportunities for, and benefits of, physical activity?
  • Are there any key harms?
  • Is anything known about whether or how approaches to physical activity could reduce potential harms (e.g., injuries or other problems associated with doing too much too fast)?
  • What resource (time and money) constraints stop or slow implementation of these interventions?
  • Can reliable and valid measures be developed to address the entire spectrum of physical activity, including light or moderate activity?
  • Are these interventions cost effective?
  • How can effectiveness in terms of health outcomes or quality-adjusted health outcomes be better measured, estimated, or modeled?
  • How can the cost–benefit of these programs be estimated?
  • How do specific characteristics of these interventions contribute to economic efficiency?
  • What combinations of components in multicomponent interventions are most cost-effective?
  • What are the physical or structural (environmental) barriers to carrying out these interventions?

Study Characteristics

The 1 included study used a time-series design to measure the proportion of university students who walked instead of drove to school, once free transit was made available.

Publications

Heath GW, Brownson RC, Kruger J, Miles R, Powell KE, Ramsey LT, Task Force on Community Services. The effectiveness of urban design and land use and transport policies and practices to increase physical activity: a systematic review. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2006;3(Suppl 1):S55-76.