Sticking to it: A scoping review of adherence to exercise therapy interventions in children and adolescents with musculoskeletal conditions

Review written by Dr Teddy Willsey info

Key Points

  1. Adherence is strongly tied to the overall effectiveness of exercise therapy interventions. Clinicians should be just as concerned with facilitating adherence as they are with programming effective exercise.
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For many musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, exercise therapy is a key component of treatment. While components of exercise therapy may appear to be analogous to general physical activity, exercise therapy is a prescribed and progressive plan of physical activities designed to address specific observed deficits and work toward therapeutic goals.

The effectiveness of exercise therapy has been shown to be strongly associated with adherence (1). When working with adolescents, there are unique considerations regarding barriers and facilitators to adherence.

Despite the recognized importance of adherence, there is a paucity of research investigating adherence concepts amongst youth. The aim of this scoping review was to consolidate existing knowledge on adherence, identify knowledge gaps, direct future studies, and provide clinicians with tools to improve the effectiveness of their exercise interventions for adolescents.

The effectiveness of exercise therapy is strongly associated with adherence.
The goal should be to ensure exercise therapy programs are individualized based on time commitment, location and the equipment patients have access to.


The authors followed PRISMA guidelines for their scoping review. 41 studies were included. Inclusion criteria included reporting on or investigating a barrier, facilitator, or strategy to boost adherence to exercise therapy in participants 19 years of age or younger. Quality

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