Sport Outcomes Evidence Review

The Sport Outcomes Evidence Review can help you understand and show to others how sport and physical activity contribute to the Government strategy outcomes

The outcomes as set out in the Government's strategy for sport Sporting Future are:

  • Physical wellbeing
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Individual development
  • Social and community development
  • Economic development

It can also inform how you set up your project to maximise impact on the outcomes.

General factors that increase effectiveness include: inclusive approaches, appropriate environments and continuing engagement. 

However, much of the evidence is very specific, so if you’re designing and delivering interventions you should refer to the relevant sections of the evidence on how to impact specific outcomes for specific target groups.

About the review


We commissioned a review of evidence on the contribution of community sport and physical activity to the outcomes in Sporting Future, the Government’s strategy for sport.


The review aims to demonstrate the contribution that sport and physical activity make to the outcomes, identify which intervention characteristics are important for delivering outcomes, and stimulate further research and improved evaluation practice.

It supports the commitments we made in our 2016-21 strategy, Towards an Active Nation.

The specific objectives were to:

  • Collate the evidence
  • Identify what makes interventions work
  • Surface evidence on different audiences
  • Identify gaps in the evidence base.


A rapid evidence review identified evidence via a database search and submissions from stakeholders in the sector.

11 databases were searched and 129 studies reviewed in full. The focus was on systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and other high quality studies, to access a large body of evidence, focusing on the UK and drawing on international material to cover each outcome.

To keep the scope manageable, the review excluded evidence on major events (eg the Olympics).


OPM, an independent research organisation, conducted the review for us. An advisory group, with members from Sport England and nine other organisations supporting and delivering sport and physical activity in England, informed the review process. Academic experts reviewed the draft report.

Next steps

This review is a step in an ongoing process of understanding the evidence, identifying gaps and moving towards filling them.

We will contribute to strengthening the evidence base in the following ways:

  • By regularly updating this work. We will work closely with academics and partners in the sector to identify priorities for future updates.
  • By sharing our Evaluation Framework to help ourselves and our partners to implement more consistent and proportionate evaluation arrangements.
  • By evaluating the impact of our investments to generate new evidence on how sport and physical activity can contribute to the outcomes.
  • By working collaboratively with academics and partners in the sector to develop the evidence base.

Further information