The number of deaths per year attributed to non-communicable diseases is increasing in low- and middle-income countries, including Thailand. To facilitate the development of evidence-based public health programs and policies in Thailand, research on physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviour (SB) is needed. The aims of this scoping review were to: (i) map all available evidence on PA and SB in Thailand; (ii) identify research gaps; and (iii) suggest directions for future research.
A systematic literature search was conducted through 10 bibliographic databases. Additional articles were identified through secondary searches of reference lists, websites of relevant Thai health organisations, Google, and Google Scholar. Studies written in Thai or English were screened independently by two authors and included if they presented quantitative or qualitative data relevant to public health research on PA and/or SB.
Out of 25,007 screened articles, a total of 564 studies were included in the review. Most studies included PA only (80%), 6.7% included SB only, and 13.3% included both PA and SB. The most common research focus was correlates (58.9%), followed by outcomes of PA/SB (22.2%), prevalence of PA/SB (12.4%), and instrument validation (3.2%). Most PA/SB research was cross-sectional (69.3%), while interventions (19.7%) and longitudinal studies (2.8%) were less represented. Most studies (94%) used self-reports of PA/SB, and few (2.5%) used device-based measures. Both sexes were examined in most studies (82.5%). Adults were the main target population group (51.1%), followed by older adults (26.9%), adolescents (15.7%), and children (6.3%). Clinical populations were investigated in the context of PA/SB in a relatively large number of studies (15.3%), most frequently those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension (22%, 21%, and 21% respectively).
The number of Thai papers on PA published per year has been increasing, indicating a growing interest in this research area. More studies using population-representative samples are needed, particularly among children and adolescents, and investigating SB as a health risk factor. To provide stronger evidence on determinants and outcomes of PA/SB, longitudinal studies using standardised measures of PA and SB are required.