Engaging adults in organized physical activity: a scoping review of recruitment strategies

Ruth Mackenzie-Stewart, Cassandra de Lacy-Vawdon, Niamh Murphy, Ben J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scaling up established physical activity (PA) opportunities for broader population reach requires practitioners to carefully consider strategies implemented to recruit and attract new participants to their PA programs. This scoping review examines the effectiveness of recruitment strategies for engaging adults in organized (established and sustained) PA programs. Electronic databases were searched for articles published between March 1995 and September 2022. Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods papers were included. Recruitment strategies were assessed against Foster et al. (Recruiting participants to walking intervention studies: a systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2011;8:137-137.) assessment of quality for reporting recruitment and the determinants of recruitment rates were examined. 8394 titles and abstracts were screened; 22 articles were assessed for eligibility; 9 papers were included. Three of the 6 quantitative papers adopted a combination of passive and active recruitment strategies and 3 relied solely on active strategies. All 6 quantitative papers reported on recruitment rates; 2 evaluated the efficacy of recruitment strategies based on the achieved levels of participation. The evaluation evidence on how individuals are successfully recruited into organized PA programs, and how recruitment strategies influence or address inequities in PA participation, is limited. Culturally sensitive, gender sensitive and socially inclusive recruitment strategies based on building personal relationships show promise for engaging hard-to-reach populations. Improving the reporting and measurement of recruitment strategies into PA programs is essential to better understand which strategies are attracting various population groups thus allowing program implementers to employ recruitment strategies best suited to the needs of their community while making efficient use of program funding.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdaad050
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2023


  • engagement
  • evaluation
  • health behavior
  • participation
  • physical activity


Dive into the research topics of 'Engaging adults in organized physical activity: a scoping review of recruitment strategies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this