Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 225–234 | Cite as

Which Behaviour Change Techniques Are Most Effective at Increasing Older Adults’ Self-Efficacy and Physical Activity Behaviour? A Systematic Review

  • David P French
  • Ellinor K Olander
  • Anna Chisholm
  • Jennifer Mc Sharry
Original Article



Increasing self-efficacy is an effective mechanism for increasing physical activity, especially for older people.


The aim of this review was to identify behaviour change techniques (BCTs) that increase self-efficacy and physical activity behaviour in non-clinical community-dwelling adults 60 years or over.


A systematic search identified 24 eligible studies reporting change in self-efficacy for physical activity following an intervention. Moderator analyses examined whether the inclusion of specific BCTs (as defined by CALO-RE taxonomy) was associated with changes in self-efficacy and physical activity behaviour.


Overall, interventions increased self-efficacy (d = 0.37) and physical activity (d = 0.14). Self-regulatory techniques such as setting behavioural goals, prompting self-monitoring of behaviour, planning for relapses, providing normative information and providing feedback on performance were associated with lower levels of both self-efficacy and physical activity.


Many commonly used self-regulation intervention techniques that are effective for younger adults may not be effective for older adults.


Self-efficacy Physical activity Systematic review Older adults Behaviour change techniques Meta-analysis 



This review was funded by Macmillan Cancer Support and University of Manchester School of Psychological Sciences start-up funds. We are grateful to Lou Atkinson, Stefanie Williams and Helen Fletcher for coding intervention descriptions.

Authors’ Statement of Conflict of Interest and Adherence to Ethical Standards

Authors French, Olander, Chisholm, and Mc Sharry declare that they have no conflict of interest. All procedures, including the informed consent process, were conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • David P French
    • 1
  • Ellinor K Olander
    • 2
  • Anna Chisholm
    • 3
  • Jennifer Mc Sharry
    • 1
  1. 1.Manchester Centre for Health Psychology, School of Psychological SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.School of Health SciencesCity University LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Manchester Centre for Health Psychology, Institute of Inflammation and RepairUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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