Sport and exercise-based interventions for young people in alternative provisions ‘what, where, how, and for who’: a realist review

T. Simmons, A. J. Brinkley, T. Quarmby, L. Horner, L. B. Sherar, O. R. Hooper, F. E. Kinnafick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Pupils in alternative provisions face unique educational, health, economic, and behavioural challenges. Sport and exercise-based interventions represent an innovative means of addressing these challenges. However, given the sparsity of peer-reviewed research, little is known regarding the what, how, and for whom, that facilitates successful intervention implementation. The purpose of this realist review is to address this gap and provide recommendations as to how interventions can be implemented successfully. Due to the absence of peer-reviewed literature; evidence was drawn from wider fields including interventions conducted in mainstream schools including children with similar characteristics to the target population. Nine initial-rough-programme-theories were developed including two rival theories. These data are formed to highlight the interweaving interactions within context-mechanism-outcome configurations. Sport and exercise-based interventions can influence pupils’ academic attainment, attendance, and relationships by promoting citizenship, facilitating exposure to green environments, and fostering belongingness. However, circumstances exist where changes in context or mechanism can result in contrasting outcomes. The context-mechanism-outcome configurations formed the foundations of the recommendations made to intervention developers and implementers aiming at making sport and exercise-based interventions in alternative provisions accessible and successful. Finally, findings of this paper are underpinned by the fundamental need for adequate space and resources within alternative provisions.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Early online date23 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jan 2024

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