The impact of physical activity and sport on social outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: A systematic scoping review

Rona Macniven, Karla Canuto, Rachel Wilson, Adrian Bauman, John Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To identify and describe existing evidence of the impact of sport and physical activity programs on social outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Design: Systematic scoping review. Methods: Nine scientific databases (MEDLINE, Scopus, SPORTSDiscus, PsycINFO, Informit, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), The Cochrane Library, The Campbell Library, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses) and grey literature were systematically searched for programs or activities that target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and use physical activity and sport participation to improve one or more of six social and community outcomes of: (i) education; (ii) employment; (iii) culture; (iv) social and emotional wellbeing; (v) life skills; (vi) crime reduction. Results: Of the 1160 studies identified, 20 met the inclusion criteria and were published between 2003 and 2018. Most studies reported positive findings across multiple, broad outcomes of education (N = 11), employment (N = 1), culture (N = 9), social and emotional wellbeing (N = 12), life skills (N = 5) and crime reduction (N = 5). Some evidence was found for increased school attendance and improved self-esteem resulting from physical activity and sport participation as well as enhanced aspects of culture, such as cultural connections, connectedness, values and identity. Conclusions: There is some evidence of benefit across the six social outcomes from physical activity and sport programs. This promotes their continuation and development, although critical appraisal of their methods is needed to better quantify benefits, as well as the generation of new evidence across indicators where gaps currently exist, particularly for employment and crime reduction outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1232-1242
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • physical activity
  • Aboriginal
  • Torres Strait Islander
  • sport
  • social outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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