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Comparative efficacy of simultaneous versus sequential multiple health behavior change interventions among adults: A systematic review of randomised trials

journal contribution
posted on 26.07.2018, 00:00 by E James, M Freund, A Booth, Mitchell DuncanMitchell Duncan, N Johnson, Camille ShortCamille Short, L Wolfenden, FG Stacey, F Kay-Lambkin, Corneel VandelanotteCorneel Vandelanotte
Background: Growing evidence points to the benefits of addressing multiple health behaviors rather than single behaviors. Purpose: This review evaluates the relative effectiveness of simultaneous and sequentially delivered multiple health behavior change (MHBC) interventions. Secondary aims were to identify: a) the most effective spacing of sequentially delivered components; b) differences in efficacy of MHBC interventions for adoption/cessation behaviors and lifestyle/addictive behaviors, and c) differences in trial retention between simultaneously and sequentially delivered interventions. Methods: MHBC intervention trials published up to October 2015 were identified through a systematic search. Eligible trials were randomised controlled trials that directly compared simultaneous and sequential delivery of a MHBC intervention. A narrative synthesis was undertaken. Results: Six trials met the inclusion criteria and across these trials the behaviors targeted were smoking, diet, physical activity, and alcohol consumption. Three trials reported a difference in intervention effect between a sequential and simultaneous approach in at least one behavioral outcome. Of these, two trials favoured a sequential approach on smoking. One trial favoured a simultaneous approach on fat intake. There was no difference in retention between sequential and simultaneous approaches. Conclusions: There is limited evidence regarding the relative effectiveness of sequential and simultaneous approaches. Given only three of the six trials observed a difference in intervention effectiveness for one health behavior outcome, and the relatively consistent finding that the sequential and simultaneous approaches were more effective than a usual/minimal care control condition, it appears that both approaches should be considered equally efficacious. PROSPERO registration number: CRD42015027876.




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Peer Reviewed


Open Access


External Author Affiliations

Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's health; University of Newcastle; University of New South Wales

Era Eligible



Preventive Medicine