Sumter County on the Move! Evaluation of a Walking Group Intervention to Promote Physical Activity Within Existing Social Networks

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Social network–driven approaches have promise for promoting physical activity in community settings. Yet, there have been few direct investigations of such interventions. This study tested the effectiveness of a social network–driven, group-based walking intervention in a medically underserved community. Methods: This study used a quasi-experimental pretest–posttest design with 3 measurement time points to examine the effectiveness of Sumter County on the Move! in communities in Sumter County, SC. A total of 293 individuals participated in 59 walking groups formed from existing social networks. Participants were 86% females, 67% black, and 31% white, with a mean age of 49.5 years. Measures included perceptions of the walking groups; psychosocial factors such as self-regulation, self-efficacy, and social support; and both self-reported and objectively measured physical activity. Results: The intervention produced significant increases in goal setting and social support for physical activity from multiple sources, and these intervention effects were sustained through the final measurement point 6 months after completion of the intervention. Nonetheless, few of the desired changes in physical activity were observed. Conclusion: Our mixed results underscore the importance of future research to better understand the dose and duration of intervention implementation required to effect and sustain behavior change.

Forthofer is with the Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Health and Human Services, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC. Wilcox, Kinnard, Hutto, and Sharpe are with the Prevention Research Center, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Wilcox is with the Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

Forthofer (forthofer@uncc.edu) is corresponding author.
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