A multilevel theoretical framework of physical activity (PA) promotion that addresses supportive environments, PA behavior, community action, and PA promoting policies is related to research and development in an international comparative study.
Most-different and most-similar case selection was applied to data from 8 European Union Member States. Data from semistructured key informant qualitative interviews, focus group interviews with experts and policy-makers, as well as document analysis were linked to corresponding Eurobarometer data.
The framework on the interplay of environment, PA behavior, community action and policies appears to be working across most different countries. Comprehensive systems of PA infrastructures are interlinked with relatively high levels of PA prevalence. These countries implement comprehensive national policies on PA promotion and show a positive perception of related local governments’ engagement. Less comprehensive systems of infrastructures interplay with lower levels of PA prevalence, less community action and fewer policies. Differences between similar cases are linked to country-specific contexts.
Framework application and comparative analysis indicates how to relate theory to empirical research and complex data sets. In-depth analysis of country-specific contexts and longitudinal observation on changes within and between countries might advise on how to integrate the framework into intervention research.