Sedentary behaviour in non-ambulant children and young people with physical disabilities: a systematic search and review protocol

Marilyn Bradbury, Ciara O'Brien, Nathan Giles, Sally Fenton, Sue Neilson, Joan L Duda

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Introduction: Non-ambulant children and young people with physical disabilities are at high risk of experiencing negative health outcomes associated with sedentary time. A previous scoping review summarising evidence relating to sedentary behaviours of children with physical disabilities identified the need for validated methods of measuring physical activity of children who use wheelchairs and evaluation of interventions to reduce sedentary time. The scoping review did not assess the quality of evidence relating to this topic, therefore its validity remains unclear. No reviews focussing on non-ambulant children and young people up to the age of 25 years have been undertaken.

The objectives of this systematic search and review are to:

1. Identify all peer-reviewed articles relating to sedentary behaviour of non-ambulant children and young people.

2. Categorise the articles according to study design and four subquestions relating to (i) measurement, (ii) patterns, (iii) associated risks and (iv) interventions to reduce sedentary time or behaviour.

3. Critically appraise quality of the articles using established critical appraisal tools.

4. Summarise the evidence for each subquestion. Describe its cumulative strength and identify knowledge gaps.

Methods and analysis: This protocol was developed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) checklist. The research questions, inclusion/exclusion criteria and search terms have been developed a priori using the ‘Population, Concept and Context’ framework. Online databases will be systematically searched to identify peer-reviewed articles published between 1996 and 2021. Two reviewers will screen, categorise and critically appraise the articles. Data extraction and analysis will be verified by the second reviewer.

Results will be reported as a best evidence synthesis, with reference to the PRISMA checklist.

Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval is not required. The review will be submitted to an appropriate peer-reviewed journal.

Registration: The review is registered on the Open Science Framework database. DOI: Any protocol amendments will be recorded in the Open Science Framework database.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere053077
JournalBMJ open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2021


  • developmental neurology & neurodisability
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • social medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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