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An Evolving Model of Best Practice in a Community Physical Activity Program: A Case Study of “Active Herts”

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Community-based physical activity programs typically evolve to respond to local conditions and feedback from stakeholders. Process evaluations are essential for capturing how programs are implemented, yet often fail to capture delivery evolution over time, meaning missed opportunities for capturing lessons learned. Methods: This research paper reports on a staged approach to a process evaluation undertaken within a community-based UK 12-month physical activity program that aimed to capture change and adaptation to program implementation. Twenty-five one-to-one interviews and 12 focus groups took place over the 3 years of program delivery. Participants included program participants, management, and service deliverers. Results: Program adaptations that were captured through the ongoing process evaluation included changes to the design of promotional material, program delivery content, ongoing training in behavior change, and the addition of regular participant community events. The authors address how these strands evolved over program delivery, and how the process evaluation was able to capture them. Conclusion: The pragmatic evaluation approach enabled changes in response to the local context, as well as improvements in the program to be captured in a timely manner, allowing the delivery to be responsive and the evaluation flexible.

Carr, Burke, and Jones are with the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom. Chater is with the Centre for Health, Wellbeing, and Behaviour Change, Institute for Sport and Physical Activity Research, University of Bedfordshire, Bedford, United Kingdom; and the Centre for Behavioural Medicine, Department of Practice and Policy, University College London School of Pharmacy, London, United Kingdom. Howlett is with the Department of Psychology, Sport, and Geography, School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom.

Carr (s.carr@uea.ac.uk) is corresponding author.

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