In 2000, the Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide) completed a systematic review of the effectiveness of various approaches to increasing physical activity including informational, behavioral and social, and environmental and policy approaches. Among these approaches was the use of signs placed by elevators and escalators to encourage stair use. This approach was found to be effective based on sufficient evidence. Over the past 5 years the body of evidence of this intervention has increased substantially, warranting an updated review. This update was conducted on 16 peer-reviewed studies (including the six studies in the previous systematic review), which met specified quality criteria and included evaluation outcomes of interest. These studies evaluated two interventions: point-of-decision prompts to increase stair use and enhancements to stairs or stairwells (e.g., painting walls, laying carpet, adding artwork, playing music) when combined with point-of-decision prompts to increase stair use. This latter intervention was not included in the original systematic review. According to the Community Guide rules of evidence, there is strong evidence that point-of-decision prompts are effective in increasing the use of stairs. There is insufficient evidence, due to an inadequate number of studies, to determine whether or not enhancements to stairs or stairwells are an effective addition to point-of-decision prompts. This article describes the rationale for these systematic reviews, along with information about the review process and the resulting conclusions. Additional information about applicability, other effects, and barriers to implementation is also provided.
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