University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications

Title

Municipal officials' perceived barriers to consideration of physical activity in community design decision making

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Date

5-2013

Document Type

Article

Medical Subject Headings

Motor Activity; Exercise; Community Health Services; City Planning; Social Planning

Disciplines

Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Policy | Medicine and Health | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Health | Urban Studies and Planning

Abstract

CONTEXT: Built environment-focused interventions and policies are recommended as sustainable approaches for promoting physical activity. Physical activity has not traditionally been considered in land use and transportation decision making. Effective collaboration with non-public health partners requires knowledge of their perceived barriers to such consideration.

OBJECTIVE: This analysis sought to (a) establish prevalence estimates of selected barriers to the consideration of physical activity in community design and layout decisions and (b) describe how barrier reporting by public health officials differs from other municipal officials among a wide range of job functions and departments in a geographically diverse sample.

DESIGN: A Web-based survey was conducted among municipal officials in 94 cities and towns with populations of at least 50 000 residents in 8 states.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 453 municipal officials from public health, planning, transportation/public works, community and economic development, parks and recreation, city management, and municipal legislatures in 83 cities and towns responded to the survey.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Five barriers to consideration of physical activity in community design and layout were assessed.

RESULTS: The most common barriers included lack of political will (23.5%), limited staff (20.4%), and lack of collaboration across municipal departments (16.2%). Fewer participants reported opposition from the business community or residents as barriers. Public health department personnel were more likely to report the barriers of limited staff and lack of collaboration across municipal departments than other professionals. They were also more likely to report lack of political will than city managers or mayors and municipal legislators.

CONCLUSIONS: Barriers to increasing consideration of physical activity in decision making about community design and layout are encouragingly low. Implications for public health practice include the need to strategically increase political will despite public health staffing constraints and perceived lack of collaboration with relevant departments such as planning and public works/transportation.

Comments

Citation: J Public Health Manag Pract. 2013 May-Jun;19(3 Suppl 1):S65-73. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318284970e. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID

23529058