Use of Social or Behavioral Theories in Exercise-Related Injury Prevention Program Research: A Systematic Review

  • Emily H. GabrielEmail author
  • Ryan S. McCann
  • Matthew C. Hoch
Systematic Review



The use of social or behavioral theories within exercise-related injury prevention program (ERIPP) research may lead to a better understanding of why adherence to the programs is low and inform the development of interventions to improve program adherence. There is a need to determine which theories have been used within the literature and at what level theory was used to further the field.


To determine which social or behavioral science theories have been incorporated within ERIPP research and assess the level at which the theories were used. The key question guiding the search was “What social or behavioral theories have been used within ERIPP research?”


A systematic review of the literature was completed with an appraisal of bias risk using a custom critical appraisal tool. An electronic search of EBSCOhost (Academic Search Complete, CINAHL, Medline, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection) and PubMed was completed from inception to October 2018. Studies investigating attitudes towards ERIPP participation with the use of a social or behavioral theoretical model or framework were eligible for inclusion.


The electronic search returned 7482 results and two articles were identified though a hand search, which resulted in ten articles meeting inclusion criteria. Four different behavioral or social theoretical models or frameworks were identified including the health action process approach model, health belief model, self-determination theory, and theory of planned behavior. Six studies utilized the theory at a B level meaning a theoretical construct was measured while four utilized the theory at the C level meaning the theory was tested. The mean critical appraisal score was 78%, indicating a majority of the studies were higher quality.


There has been an increase in the use of theory within literature that is specific to ERIPP participation. Additionally, the use of theory has shifted from guiding program design to the measurement of theoretical constructs and testing of the theoretical models.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Emily Gabriel, Ryan McCann, and Matthew Hoch declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Health ProfessionsMercer UniversityMaconUSA
  2. 2.School of Physical Therapy and Athletic TrainingOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Athletic Training and Clinical NutritionUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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