The physical activity - mental wellbeing association in young people: A case study in dealing with a complex public health topic using a ‘realistic evaluation’ framework

Whitelaw, A. , Teuton, J., Swift, J. and Scobie, G. (2010) The physical activity - mental wellbeing association in young people: A case study in dealing with a complex public health topic using a ‘realistic evaluation’ framework. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 3(2), pp. 61-66. (doi:10.1016/j.mhpa.2010.06.001)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mhpa.2010.06.001

Abstract

Background: Some public health problems can be considered as complex and the evidence base associated with them narrow and ambiguous. This paper reports and reflects on our experiences of undertaking a critical evidence review in an area of this nature e the relationship between physical activity and mental wellbeing among young people. Methods: A critical literature review and wider conceptual reflection. Results: The assertion that physical activity is associated with mental wellbeing was generally upheld, though a range of quandaries were raised that suggested the narrowness of some approaches to evidence. A wider systems orientation was adopted, deploying Pawson and Tilley’s ‘Realistic Evaluation’ framework to gain insight into e what is the nature of the association, why might there be an association and how might we best deliver interventions to exploit potential association? Conclusions: The evidence broadly supported the hypothesis that physical activity has the potential to improve mental wellbeing in young people. We suggest that this more conditional position may have more utility. That is, it is best not to see the relationship as a ‘given’; it can be difficult to achieve; and can only be realised in association of a series of conducive ‘change mechanisms’.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Physical activity; Mental wellbeing; Evidence; Systems
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Whitelaw, Dr Alexander
Authors: Whitelaw, A., Teuton, J., Swift, J., and Scobie, G.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Mental Health and Physical Activity
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd
ISSN:1755-2966
ISSN (Online):1878-0199
Published Online:09 June 2010

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