Frontline-staff are critical to achieving policies related to child physical activity and nutrition (PAaN) in out-of-school-time programs (OSTP). Recent policies call upon staff to demonstrate behaviors related to PAaN. Currently, no instrument exists to measure these behaviors. This study fills the gap between policy mandates and staff behaviors by describing the development of the System for Observing Staff Promotion of Activity and Nutrition (SOSPAN) in OSTP.
SOSPAN items were aligned with existing OSTP policies. Reliability and validity data of SOSPAN were collected across 8 OSTP: 4 summer day camps and 4 afterschool programs. Validity of SOSPAN staff behaviors/management of PA was established using the percent of children active measured concurrently via direct observation.
A total of 6437 scans were performed. Interrater percent agreement ranged from 74%–99% across PAaN behaviors. Children’s activity was associated with staff facilitative behaviors/management, such as playing with the children and providing 2 or more activities for children to choose, while prohibitive behaviors/management, such as waiting in line were related to increased sedentary behavior. Staff nutrition behaviors were observed in less than 0.6% of scans.
SOSPAN is a reliable and valid tool to assess staff behaviors/management of PAaN in OSTPs.