Older adults are the most sedentary segment of society and high sedentary time is associated with poor health and wellbeing outcomes in this population. Identifying determinants of sedentary behaviour is a necessary step to develop interventions to reduce sedentary time.
A systematic literature review was conducted to identify factors associated with sedentary behaviour in older adults. Pubmed, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Web of Science were searched for articles published between 2000 and May 2014. The search strategy was based on four key elements: (a) sedentary behaviour and its synonyms; (b) determinants and its synonyms (e.g. correlates, factors); (c) types of sedentary behaviour (e.g. TV viewing, sitting, gaming) and (d) types of determinants (e.g. environmental, behavioural). Articles were included in the review if specific information about sedentary behaviour in older adults was reported. Studies on samples identified by disease were excluded. Study quality was rated by means of QUALSYST. The full review protocol is available from PROSPERO (PROSPERO 2014: CRD42014009823). The analysis was guided by the socio-ecological model framework.
Twenty-two original studies were identified out of 4472 returned by the systematic search. These included 19 cross-sectional, 2 longitudinal and 1 qualitative studies, all published after 2011. Half of the studies were European. The study quality was generally high with a median of 82 % (IQR 69–96 %) using Qualsyst tool. Personal factors were the most frequently investigated with consistent positive association for age, negative for retirement, obesity and health status. Only four studies considered environmental determinants suggesting possible association with mode of transport, type of housing, cultural opportunities and neighbourhood safety and availability of places to rest. Only two studies investigated mediating factors. Very limited information was available on contexts and sub-domains of sedentary behaviours.
Few studies have investigated determinants of sedentary behaviour in older adults and these have to date mostly focussed on personal factors, and qualitative studies were mostly lacking. More longitudinal studies are needed as well as inclusion of a broader range of personal and contextual potential determinants towards a systems-based approach, and future studies should be more informed by qualitative work.