Sport Based Youth Development Interventions

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  • Name of the article;
  • Discuss the Methodology or how the study was conducted (qualitative or quantitative study), themes for qualitative methods and descriptive or quantitative analysis for quantitative research;
  • The participants of the study (sample size);
  • Research design if subjects were placed in a control group;
  • Results of the study. Summarize the data analysis. What did they find?
  • Discussion or interpreting the implications of the study;
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Whitley et al. BMC Public Health (2019) 19:89 RESEARCH ARTICLE Open Access Sport-based youth development interventions in the United States: a systematic review Meredith A. Whitley1* , William V. Massey2, Martin Camiré3, Mish Boutet4 and Amanda Borbee1 Abstract Background: The growing number of sport-based youth development interventions provide a potential avenue for integrating sport meaningfully into the U.S. public health agenda. However, efficacy and quality must be reliably established prior to widespread implementation. Methods: A comprehensive search of databases, peer-reviewed journals, published reviews, and both published and unpublished documents yielded 10,077 distinct records. Title and abstract screening, followed by full-text screening using 6 criteria, resulted in 56 distinct studies (coalescing into 10 sport-based youth development intervention types) included in the synthesis. These studies were then independently assessed and critically appraised. Results: Limited efficacy data were identified, with the quality of methods and evidence largely classified as weak. Processes likely to contribute to the outcomes of sport-based youth development interventions were identified (e.g. , predictors of ongoing engagement, alignment between target population and intervention, intervention design), although more rigorous research is needed on these and other processes. Physical health outcomes were only studied in 3 of the 10 intervention types. Conclusions: The evidence base does not yet warrant wide-scale implementation of sport-based youth development interventions for public health goals within the U. S., although there is promising research that identifies areas for further exploration. Keywords: Youth development, Physical activity, Program, Research, USA Background Despite widespread recognition of physical inactivity as a global public health issue [1], there continues to be a trend toward sedentary lifestyles, particularly for youth [2]. This includes the United States (U.S.), with 37.4% of 12–19 year olds classified as overweight and 20.9% of these youth identified as obese [3]. Consequently, the promotion of physical activity is a national health priority. Despite physical activity being an inherent feature of sport, which is immensely popular among youth in the U.S. (e.g., more than 44 million participants) [4], the role * Correspondence: 1 Adelphi University, 1 South Avenue, Woodruff Hall, Room 172, Garden City, NY 11530, USA Full list of author information is available at the end of the article of sport in promoting physical activity is frequently marginalized in the public health agenda [5, 6]. The perception of sport as a competitive activity permeated by aggressive masculinity, expressions of violence, and a high tolerance for injury, may partially explain the lack of sport in public health discourse [7]. Others have argued that practices are filled with drills and a focus on strategy over activity [5, 8]. From this perspective, the public health agenda appears incompatible with the performance-oriented focus of sport [6], often positioned as an “afterthought in U.S. public health campaigns” ([5], p. 20). Moreover, competitive sport can be exclusionary [9], particularly when social inequalities (e.g., socioeconomic position) and neighborhood characteristics (e.g., social fragmentation, crime incidence) disproportionately affect low-income youth [10, 11]. © The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated. Whitley et al. BMC Public Health (2019) 19:89 A response to these concerns is the growing number of sport-based youth development interventions founded on principles of inclusion and participation [12]. These interventions expand their focus beyond physical health, promoting holistic development in physical, cognitive, affective, social, and lifestyle domains [13]. This emphasis broadens the traditional public health narrative that takes a deficit-reduction approach, instead embracing the notion that “problem-free is not fully prepared, and that fully prepared is not fully engaged” ([14], p. 25). Thus, sport-based youth development interventions involve youth in physical activities that intentionally foster developmental assets (e.g., values, commitment to learning, social competencies, positive identity) and surround youth with protective factors (e.g., support, relationships, experiences, resources, opportunities) that have been shown to be important facilitators of health for at-risk youth [15, 16]. This represents a paradigm shift in which public health efforts are embracing strength-based approaches in addition to problem-prevention activities. Despite the potential for sport-based youth development to contribute to U.S. public health goals, evidence is needed to support the effectiveness of these interventions prior to wide-scale implementation. As Berg and colleagues pointed out, “all public health programs must guard against the idea that merely providing opportunities will get people more physically active” ([5], p. 22). This notion is particularly true for sport-based youth development interventions, as they have been criticized on account of theoretical [17] and methodological rigor [18]. As such, the purpose of the current study was to systematically review sport-based youth development interventions in the U.S. The primary research question was: What is the quality of evidence reported for sport-based youth development interventions in the U.S.? Two secondary research questions also guided the study: In youth populations, are sport-based youth development interventions effective for improving public health-related goals (i.e., physical, social, mental), and What are the processes that contribute to the outcomes of sport-based youth development interventions? Methods This systematic review was conducted and reported following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines (see Additional file 1 for PRISMA checklist) [19]. An electronic search was conducted of 6 databases (i.e., PsycINFO, Embase, SPORTDiscus, Education Source, Scopus, Web of Science; see Additional file 2 for detailed search terms and strategy), along with manual searches of 20 field relevant peer-reviewed journals and the reference lists of 12 recent reviews. Searches focused on Page 2 of 20 literature published from 1995 through August 2017. Additionally, published and unpublished research documents were sought from 45 sport-based youth development experts, representing a diverse array of organizations, institutions, and groups, with the websites of these entities also searched. Overall, the search yielded 10,077 distinct records published in English (see Fig. 1), with the title and abstract of each record screened. Full text review of 430 articles (4.3%) was completed by 2 independent investigators using 6 screening criteria: (a) full text articles/evaluations with enough methodological data (i.e., a description of participants, data collection, and data analysis) to critically appraise the study; (b) data collected completely/partly in the U.S.; (c) empirical studies reporting primary data; (d) average participant age between 10 and 24 years old, per the United Nations’ definition of adolescents and youth [20]; (e) evidence of a plus-sport (i.e., sport adapted to maximize developmental objectives) or sport-plus (i.e., sport used as a vehicle for development, with precedence on non-sporting outcomes) intervention [21]; and (f ) a minimum of 2 independent records for an intervention type (in response to consistent criticisms of one-off evaluations) [17, 22]. Disagreements were resolved through discussion with the primary investigator. The final sample contained 56 distinct studies, which coalesced into 10 intervention types: (a) Summer Sport and Life Skills Camps, (b) Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility, (c) Girls on the Run, (d) Playworks, (e) The First Tee, (f ) Play It Smart, (g) Urban Squash, (h) Coach Across America, (i) Doc Wayne, and (j) Sport Hartford. A full reference list of all included studies is provided in Additional file 3. Quality assessment Two investigators independently assessed and critically appraised the study methods. For studies containing quantitative data, the Quality Appraisal Tool for Quantitative Studies [23] was used, based on these criteria: (a) selection bias, (b) allocation bias, (c) control of confounding variables, (d) blinding, (e) data collection methods, (f ) follow-up rates, (g) statistical analyses, and (h) intervention integrity (e.g., fidelity assessment, likelihood of co-intervention). Each study received a strong, moderate, or weak rating for each applicable criterion. When specific criteria were not applicable to a study (e.g., withdrawal and follow-up in a cross-sectional design; allocation bias in single group designs), the Quality Appraisal Tool for Quantitative Studies gives explicit instructions as to how to rate said criteria. An overall assessment was then derived: (a) strong if all criteria were rated moderate or strong; (b) moderate if 1 criterion was rated weak; and (c) weak if 2 or more criteria were rated weak. The investigators took a meta-theory and Whitley et al. BMC Public Health (2019) 19:89 Page 3 of 20 Fig. 1 PRISMA flow diagram for research on sport-based youth development interventions in the U.S. meta-method approach for qualitative studies [24]. A methodological coherence rating was given, which determined whether a study demonstrated consistency between ontology, epistemology, theory, methodology, sampling strategy, data collection techniques, data analysis, and study quality procedures. Data synthesis Due to high levels of heterogeneity (see Table 1 for study details), a narrative description of the evidence is presented below. Specifically, the extant literature was examined within each intervention type, with the study outcomes assessed in the context of the quality of evidence. Where discrepancies across studies occurred (i.e., positive vs. negative results), these results are contextualized within the quality of the evidence. Results Summer Sport and Life Skills Camps Study quality Summer Sport and Life Skills Camps (4–5 weeks in length) grounded in principles of positive youth development (e.g., caring climate, support for autonomy and competence) and sponsored by the National Youth Sport Program or universities were assessed in 11 studies (8 quantitative, 2 qualitative, 1 mixed methods). Eight studies with quantitative components were classified as weak evidence, with only McDavid, McDonough, Blankenship, and LeBreton classified as moderate evidence [25]. Most studies were single-group, pre-test post-test designs. Of the 2 qualitative studies and 1 mixed methods study, 1 was assessed as having no methodological coherence, while 2 were assessed as partial methodological coherence [26, 27]. Outcomes Overall, the findings suggest a limited effect of Summer Sport and Life Skills Camps on youth outcomes, with major limitations being short assessment periods and/or a lack of follow-up. In 1 follow-up study, slight increases were reported in assessment scores for those who returned to camp, but the findings did not account for those who did not return [28]. Given that the outcomes assessed could be considered rather stable (e.g., perceptions of competence, hope, self-worth), it is possible that the short intervention and observation phases were not sensitive enough to show possible changes. One strength of this body of evidence is the use of mediational and moderation analyses to identify key critical factors. For example, establishing a caring climate increased empathic concern [29], and affective self-regulatory efficacy and empathic self-efficacy helped mediate the link between caring climate and social behaviors [30]. Moreover, leader behavior and perceived leader support were important predictors of child-level outcomes and camp participation in subsequent years [28, 31]. These findings imply that ongoing intervention involvement may enhance outcomes. Ulrich-French and McDonough reported that lower BMI, higher self-worth, and higher intervention attendance were also predictors Intervention Characteristics N = 287 Age 9–16 (Mean = 11.85) N = 395 Age 9–16 (Mean = 11.8) AndersonParticipants attended a 4-week Butcher et al. sport-based PYD summer camp for (2014) 5 h per day. See Newton et al. Participants attended a 4-week summer PYD through PA program for 6.5 h per day. Participants attended a 4-week summer PYD through PA program for 7 h per day. Group leaders were randomly assigned to receive standard training or training grounded in SDT. Participants attended a 5-week summer camp sponsored by the NYSP. Camp sessions were attended daily and consisted of 4 h of PA, 1 hour of health education, lunch, and snacks. Groups were separated based on groups leader training. One group received a caring climate curriculum while other GanoOverway et al. (2009) McDavid et al. (2015) McDavid et al. (2017) Newton et al. (2007) N = 353 Age 9–17 (Mean = 12.18) N = 379 Age range NR N = 321 Age 7–14 (Mean = 10.33) N = 193 Age 9–16 (Mean = 11.93) Participants AndersonParticipants attended a 4-week Butcher et al. sport-based PYD summer camp for (2013) 5 h per day. Summer Sport and Life Skills Camps Intervention /Author (year) Table 1 Summary table1 Multi-level latent variable modeling, mediational analysis Psychological need support, psychological need satisfaction, hope, self-worth Quantitative, Multivariate and Caring, perceived two-group, univariate tests motivational cross-sectional of covariance climate, empathic concern, enjoyment, anticipated future participation Quantitative, randomized control trial Self-worth, hope Social competence, sport-specific competence, belonging, self-control, effort, teamwork, social responsibility Quantitative, single group Latent variable longitudinal structural equation panel modeling Main Findings Weak; coherence between purpose and qualitative method. No philosophical assumptions discussed Study Quality Moderate Weak Weak Efficacy: Caring group participants Weak reported a higher level of perceived caring climate and lower level of perceived ego-oriented climate. Those in the caring group reported higher empathic concern and an increased likelihood for future involvement. Process: Leader behavior was shown to influence child level outcomes (regardless of group). Efficacy: Changes in psychological need satisfaction predicted changes in hope and self-worth. Intervention did not affect leader behavior as intended. Efficacy: No changes reported in self-worth or hope across the program. Gender and race did not moderate outcomes. Changes in self-worth predicted changes in hope, but only explained a small percent of the variance (2–7%). Efficacy: Affective self-regulatory efficacy and empathic self-efficacy mediated the relationship between a caring climate and youth’s social behaviors. Efficacy: Social responsibility was Weak reported to increase from pre-toposttest. No other outcomes improved. Moderator analysis showed that those with lowest pre-test scores benefitted most from the program. Perceived belonging was shown to predict changes in outcome variables. Social Process: Engagement and competence, interaction between staff and sport-specific social youth noted as a major strength; competence, behavioral management and social belonging skill promotion were areas in need of improvement. Efficacy: No differences reported in social competence or belonging; pre-post improvements were reported in athletic competence (p < .01). Outcomes Addressed Caring climate, emotional selfregulation, empathic self-efficacy, prosocial and antisocial behaviors Latent growth curve modeling Dependent ttest; content analysis of program observations Analysis Strategy Quantitative, Test of single group, mediation via cross-sectional structural equation modelling Quantitative, single group Mixed methods, single group Methodology Evidence of selection bias; nonblinded measures; lack of control for confounding variables; no information reported on dropouts; post-test only design Lack of intervention effect; nonblinded outcomes Single group; non-causal design; measurement time lag; small effect sizes Cross-sectional study design; unable to account for likely covariates; amount of variance explained in models suggests other factors are salient in explaining behaviors Evidence of selection bias; no comparison group; lack of reporting on withdrawals; lack of blinded outcomes Evidence of selection bias; no comparison group; large percentage of participants who did not complete measures; lack of blinded outcomes; less than optimal scale reliabilities; philosophical assumptions, data collection methods, and data analysis methods not reported in detail Summary of Study Limitations Whitley et al. BMC Public Health (2019) 19:89 Page 4 of 20 Participants attended a 4-week summer PYD through PA program for 6 h per day. Participants attended a 4-week sport-based PYD summer camp for 6 h per day. Participants attended a 4-week summer PYD through PA program for 6 h per day. Participants had to complete Year 1 of the summer PYD program and be eligible to come back in Year 2. Participants attended a 4-week summer PYD through PA program for 6 h per day. Riley & AndersonButcher (2012) Riley et al. (2017; Riley, 2013) UllrichFrench & McDonough (2013) UllrichFrench et al. (2012) Cryan & Martinek (2017) Intervention was an after-school soccer program grounded in TPSR principles. Participants attended the program 2 hours per day, 2 days N = 14 Age = 11–12 N = 197 Age 9–16 (Mean = 11.8) N = 215 Age 8–13 (Mean = 11.6) N = 23 Staff N = 329 Youth Age 9–15 (youth) N = 10 Age 31–58 N = 24 Age 8–14 Participants Mixed methods, single group pre-post Quantitative, single group Quantitative, single group, longitudinal Quantitative, single group pre-post Qualitative, general Qualitative, case study Methodology Deductive analysis; dependent ttest Repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance Logistic regression, multivariate analysis of covariance Multi-level modeling (youth outcomes nested within coach groups) Grounded theory approach Thematic analysis Analysis Strategy Lack of methodological coherence Philosophical underpinnings consistent with theory and method used in study Study Quality Weak Weak; lack of coherence Efficacy: Perceived social Weak competence, perceived physical competence, physical self-worth, and global self-worth increased from pre to post program; no other variables showed change. Results were moderated by age, with older children experiencing more benefit from the program. Efficacy: BMI (OR = 0.91), self-worth (OR = 2.15), program attendance (OR = 1.49), and perceptions of leader support (OR = 1.70) increased the likelihood that participants returned the following year. Efficacy: Self-control had a small (d Weak = .29) but statistically significant increase from pre to post test. No statistical changes were noted in externalizing behaviors. Perceived emotional support was significantly related to perceived self-control (b = 1.13; ...
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Sport-based Youth Development Interventions
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Sport-based Youth Development Interventions
In the United States, research shows that there is an increase in physical inactivity among
the youth. The trend towards sedentary lifestyle among the youth is a common thing, which is
becoming a public health issue. In the country, about 37.4% of 12-19-year-olds are overweight
and 20.9% of them being classified as obese. As a result, the national health puts the promotion
of physical activity as its biggest priority. Sport, which is popular among the youth in the U.S., is
one of the most important ways of promoting physical activity. However, the role that sports
play in the promotion of physical activity is treated as insignificant in the public health agenda.
This paper outlines researches carried out to determine the significance of sport in promoting
physical activities. It focuses more on the quality and efficacy of sport-based youth development
interventions before being implemented in the public health agenda as outlined by the article
“Sport-based youth development interventions in the United States: a system...

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