National Policy on Physical Activity: The Development of a Policy Audit Tool

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for noncommunicable disease worldwide. Increasing physical activity requires large scale actions and relevant, supportive national policy across multiple sectors.

Methods:

The policy audit tool (PAT) was developed to provide a standardized instrument to assess national policy approaches to physical activity. A draft tool, based on earlier work, was developed and pilot-tested in 7 countries.

Results:

After several rounds of revisions, the final PAT comprises 27 items and collects information on 1) government structure, 2) development and content of identified key policies across multiple sectors, 3) the experience of policy implementation at both the national and local level, and 4) a summary of the PAT completion process.

Conclusions:

PAT provides a standardized instrument for assessing progress of national policy on physical activity. Engaging a diverse international group of countries in the development helped ensure PAT has applicability across a wide range of countries and contexts. Experiences from the development of the PAT suggests that undertaking an audit of health enhancing physical activity (HEPA) policy can stimulate greater awareness of current policy opportunities and gaps, promote critical debate across sectors, and provide a catalyst for collaboration on policy level actions. The final tool is available online.

Bull is with the School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia. Milton is with the School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. Kahlmeier is with the Physical Activity and Health Unit, Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine of the University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.