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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name



Exercise and Sport Science

First Advisor

Leah R. Ketcheson


Background: Declining levels of physical activity throughout childhood is a growing concern. Goal setting theory uses motivation and purposeful decision making to improve performance in a targeted domain. Although there is ample empirical support demonstrating the benefits of physical activity (PA), sustained behavioral changes following intervention are difficult to achieve. Goal setting represents an attractive, however, there has been limited research in this rising field, so a scoping review is needed. Objective: To conduct a scoping review to identify the existing research on the use of goal setting theory to improve health and physical activity in youth. Methods: A literature search was conducted and Guided by the Joanna Briggs Institute framework for scoping reviews. Searches were conducted in four electronic data bases (PubMed, ERIC, CINHAL, ProQuest) to find peer reviewed articles in the English language published between 2011 and 2021. Characteristics of the studies were extracted using the PRISMA-ScR Group Guidelines for Preferred Reporting Items for Scoping Reviews. Results: Out of the 136 articles found, 5 met the inclusion criteria. The final review included 5 articles published over a 10 year period, and a total of 103 participants aged 6-22. All 5 reported the use of goal setting to enhance physical activity. Discussion: Goal setting represents an accessible and affordable option for the promotion of physical activity throughout childhood.

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