Active School Travel Intervention Methodologies in North America: A Systematic Review

Context: As children’s lifestyles have become increasingly sedentary, active school travel can be a relatively accessible way to increase their daily physical activity. In recent years, several different models of interventions have been utilized to promote children participating in active school travel. This review documents and analyzes the different active school travel intervention methodologies that have been used in North America (Canada or U.S.) by collecting, organizing, and evaluating data relating to all phases of active school travel interventions.

Evidence acquisition: This systematic review developed a key word search and applied it in six databases (BIOSIS Previews, GeoBase, PubMed, SCOPUS, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science) to gather scholarly literature. A total of 22 studies evaluating children’s active school travel interventions in a North American setting (four Canada, 18 U.S.) were identified for the period between January 2010 and March 2017.

Evidence synthesis: Applying the Safe Routes to School Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering, Equity, and Evaluation (“6 E’s”) framework, interventions were thematically assessed for their structure and organization, approaches and methods, and outcomes and discussions. Encouragement and education were the most commonly observed themes within the different methodologies of the studies reviewed. Details relating to intervention approaches and methods were common; whereas data relating to intervention structure and organization received much less attention.

 Conclusions: Kingdon’s multiple streams approach was applied to frame the findings for program facilitators and evaluators. Within the multiple streams approach, several considerations are offered to address and potentially improve active school travel intervention conceptualization, partnerships, organization, and evaluation.


Buttazzoni, A. N., Van Kesteren, E. S., Shah, T. I., & Gilliland, J. A. (2018). Active school travel intervention methodologies in North America: a systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 55(1), 115-124. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2018.04.007

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