Implementation and evaluation of a physical activity intervention for rural children using a community based participatory research approach

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University of Alabama Libraries

Background: Physical inactivity is a leading cause of obesity in the United States, largely contributing to the increased risks of disease and premature death in this country. Effective physical activity interventions are needed for children since health behaviors track into adulthood and risk factors for diseases begin early in life. One approach that has been proven effective when devising interventions and research strategies is called Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). Objective: The objective of this investigation was to determine if a CBPR intervention increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and decreased sedentary behavior in 10-11 year old children residing in a rural community in Alabama. Methods: This investigation included: 1) Leading a group of children (n=12) through a Photovoice project; (2) Designing a physical activity video intervention guided by the themes that emerged during the Photovoice project, and that featured members of the community as educators; and (3) Implementing the 4-week video intervention and evaluating psychosocial constructs related to physical activity and determining if this led to concomitant improvements in physical activity behavior (Actigraph, wGT3X-BT, Pensacola, FL) pre-to-post intervention. Results: Follow-up measurements of the psychosocial constructs were significantly higher compared to baseline measures for the intervention group (p<0.05). Participants in the intervention group (n=18) had higher delta scores for skills (t=2.45, p=0.020) and knowledge (t=4.71, p<0.001) with respect to the comparison group (n=19). Follow-up MVPA of the intervention group (30±18.5 min) was significantly higher than the comparison group (18.2±12.1 min) (t=2.17, p=0.037). Baseline MVPA did not differ between groups. There were no significant differences within or between groups for sedentary behavior. A regression model adjusting for known moderators was significant (F=7.91, p<0.001), and indicated that group (intervention vs. comparison) was a significant predictor of MVPA (Beta= 0.405, p=0.019). Conclusion: Following the intervention, the intervention group’s MVPA was 43% higher than the comparison group. MVPA remained relatively stable for the intervention group from pre-to-post, while a decreasing MVPA trend was evident in the comparison group. Physical activity interventions such as the one in this project may be an effective tool, favorably impacting physical activity levels of rural children in Alabama.

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