Assessing State-Level Active Living Promotion Using Network Analysis

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Physical inactivity is a growing problem in the United States, one that is being addressed through the development of active living communities. However, active living promotion requires collaboration among organizations that may not have previously shared goals.

Methods:

A network analysis was conducted to assess Hawaii’s active living promotion network. Twenty-six organizations playing a significant role in promoting active living in Hawaii were identified and surveyed about their frequency of contact, level of collaboration, and funding flow with other agencies.

Results:

A communication network was identified linking all agencies. This network had many long pathways, impeding information flow. The Department of Health (DOH) and the State Nutrition and Physical Activity Coalition (NPAC) were central nodes, but DOH connected state agencies while NPAC linked county and voluntary organizations. Within the network, information sharing was common, but collaboration and formal partnership were low. Linkages between county and state agencies, between counties, and between state agencies with different core agendas were particularly low.

Conclusions:

Results suggest that in the early stages of development, active living networks may be divided by geography and core missions, requiring work to bridge these divides. Network mapping appears helpful in identifying areas for network development.

The authors are with the Dept of Public Health Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI.