Determinants of physical activity and sedentary behaviour: Participation in a collaborative production of a best-evidence statement
As part of my PhD project, I found a good opportunity in joining DE-PASS work group D.2.5, led by my supervisor Dr Fiona Ling, to which I could contribute to the deliverable and conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis that informs my PhD. The participation in DE-PASS would also allow me to collaborate with other researchers and learn throughout the process. My PhD project addresses the issue of high levels of sedentary behaviour among children and revolves, specifically, around the determinants that underpin the self-regulation of physical activity. The aim of the review will be to identify the determinants of physical activity, in existing intervention studies, that are modifiable and effective in changing children’s behaviour from sedentary to physically active. The overarching goal of DE-PASS D2.5 is to produce a best-evidence statement that informs policy around physical activity – our focus being on children and adolescents.
The work on drafting a protocol for the review process started in March 2021. The D2.5 core group members – Dr Fiona Ling, Dr Anna Marcuzzi, Dr Gavin Tempest, Dr Kwok Ng and myself – met virtually during two weeks in September 2021 to work towards a final protocol for the review process. I was awarded a Virtual Mobility Grant to undertake this work. I was tasked with the registration of the protocol to the International prospective register of systematic reviews (PROSPERO; Reg. nr.: CRD42021282874) and to take the lead on a protocol manuscript to be submitted to an open access journal – BMJ Open. I was also tasked with setting up and managing the review process, including study screening, data extraction and risk of bias assessment, using Covidence which enables researchers to collaborate on and manage reviews online. This also involved providing guidance to the members of the review team in a detailed step-by-step guide, in workshops, as well as supporting them during the review process. The review process, i.e. screening and extraction/risk of bias in Covidence, involved around 30 DE-PAS members.
Having collaborated with more experienced researchers from different fields and countries was beneficial in several ways. Especially the periods of intensive virtual meetings with fruitful discussions, including opinions of members from different fields and based on applications in different countries. Throughout the collaboration, we explored and learned the ins and outs of systematic reviews and meta-analyses (showing that even established researchers still have a lot to learn). The PROSPERO registration and the protocol manuscript include almost 70 co-authors, who all provided feedback and guidance on the manuscript. This was a great learning process during revisions as well as challenging to handle a large group of independent members.
Participating and playing a central role in a project like DE-PASS D2.5 is a rare opportunity for a PhD student and a good one for skills development.