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Digital interventions to reduce sedentary behaviours of office workers: a scoping review

Huang, Yitong; Benford, Steve; Blake, Holly


Yitong Huang

Steve Benford

Holly Blake



There is a clear public health need to reduce office workers’ sedentary behaviours (SB), especially in the workplace. Digital technologies are increasingly being deployed in the workplace to measure and modify office workers’ SB. However, knowledge of the range and nature of research on this topic is limited; it also remains unclear to what extent digital interventions have exploited the technological possibilities.


To investigate the technological landscape of digital interventions for SB reduction in office workers and to map the research activity in this field.


Terms relating to SB, office worker, and digital technology were applied in various combinations to search Cochrane Library, JBI Database of Systematic Reviews, MEDLINE, PsycArticles, PsycInfo, Scopus, ACM Digital Library, Ei Compendex, and Google Scholar for the years 2000 to 2017. Data regarding the study and intervention details were extracted. Interventions and studies were categorised into development, feasibility/piloting, evaluation or implementation phase, based on the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) framework for developing and evaluating complex interventions. A novel framework was developed to classify technological features and annotate technological configurations. A mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches were used to summarise data.


We identified 68 articles describing 45 digital interventions designed to intervene with office workers’ SB. Six common technological features had been applied to interventions with various combinations. Configurations like ID & MOSSI (Information delivery & mediated organisational and social support), and DL & ATF (digital log & automated tailored feedback) were well-established in evaluation and implementation studies; in contrast, the integration of passive data collection (PDC), connected devices (CD) and automated tailored feedback (ATF) or scheduled prompts (SP) were mostly present in development and piloting research.


This review is the first to map and describe the use of digital technologies in research on SB reduction in office workers. Interdisciplinary collaborations can help to maximize the potential of technologies. As novel modes of delivery that capitalised on embedded computing and electronics, and wireless technologies have been developed and piloted in engineering, computing and design fields, efforts can be directed to moving them to the next phase of evaluation with more rigorous study designs. Quality of research may be improved by fostering conversations between different research communities and encouraging researchers to plan, conduct and report their research under the MRC framework. This review will be particularly informative to those deciding on areas where further research or development is needed, and to those looking to locate the relevant expertise, resources and design inputs when designing their own systems or interventions.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 1, 2019
Journal JMIR
Print ISSN 1438-8871
Electronic ISSN 1438-8871
Publisher Journal of Medical Internet Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 2
Article Number e11079
Keywords Telemedicine; Sedentary behaviour; Digital technology
Publisher URL


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