UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Local Health Department Engagement in Community Physical Activity Policy

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Policy | Preventive Medicine


INTRODUCTION: This study assessed correlates of self-reported local health department (LHD) participation in community policy/advocacy activities that support physical activity.

METHODS: In 2014, cross-sectional data from the nationally representative 2013 National Profile of Local Health Departments study administered by the National Association of County and City Health Officials were analyzed. Outcomes were participation in policy/advocacy activities related to urban design/land use, active transportation, and access to recreational facilities. Independent variables included structural characteristics, performance improvement efforts, and collaboration. Multivariate logistic regression models were computed.

RESULTS: Representatives of 490 LHDs participated (79% response rate). Respondents reported similar participation in urban design/land use (25%); active transportation (16%); and recreational facility access (23%) policy/advocacy. LHDs with populations of > /=500,000 were more likely to report urban design/land use (p=0.004) as well as active transportation policy/advocacy participation (p=0.007) compared with those with populations of < /=50,000. LHDs with a community health improvement plan were more likely to participate in urban design/land use policy/advocacy (p=0.001). LHDs who regularly use the Community Guide were more likely to report policy/advocacy activity on active transportation (p=0.007) and expanding access to recreation facilities (p=0.009). LHDs engaged in a land use partnership were more likely to report urban design/land use (p < 0.001) and active transportation (p=0.001) policy/advocacy participation.

CONCLUSIONS: Participation in community physical activity policy/advocacy among LHDs was low in this study and varied by LHD characteristics. Intervention opportunities include assisting smaller LHDs and promoting performance improvement efforts and evidence-based practice resources. Inc.

DOI of Published Version



Am J Prev Med. 2016 Jan;50(1):57-68. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.06.033. Epub 2015 Sep 26. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American journal of preventive medicine

PubMed ID