A scoping review of interventions aimed at increasing physical activity for people with intellectual disabilities. Can social marketing play a role?

Ms Angela Makris1, Dr.  Elizabeth  Perkins, Dr Mahmooda  Khaliq Pasha

1Universitry Of South Florida, , United States

There are 6.2 million people in the United States with an intellectual disability. Most fall short of meeting recommended exercise guidelines. People with intellectual disabilities have poorer health than the general population and higher rates of comorbidities. A low level of physical activity is one key lifestyle factor that can be addressed to improve health outcomes. The social marketing framework is a human-centred, research-guided approach to behaviour change that could address this issue.

A scoping review of the scientific literature on social marketing, health promotion, intellectual disabilities, health disparities, and physical activity was conducted from 2000 to February 2020. Databases searched PubMed, Web of Science, PsychInfo, and CINAHL.

A total of 13 articles were reviewed. The two most frequently used behaviour change theories were the Theory of Planned Behaviour and Social Cognitive Theory. Ten interventions showed an increase in physical activity. From the ten, only one had statistically significant health outcomes; that intervention applied four of the social marketing benchmark criteria.

There is limited information on which behaviour change theories successfully increase physical activity for a person with an intellectual disability. The scoping review shows a need to look beyond social cognitive theory and the transtheoretical model for a behaviour led change. The disability sector can possibly benefit by applying social marketing principles, which concentrate on voluntary behaviour change, particularly for addressing sustainability, inclusion, and fidelity in health promotion interventions.


Angela Makris is a PhD student whose research focuses on the intersection of public health, disability, and social marketing. Her area of interest is assessing the impact the role organizational culture plays in the fidelity of health promotion initiatives for people with disabilities who live in group homes.