Lessons in promoting active living: the collaborative perspective

UMMS Affiliation

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

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Environmental Public Health | Exercise Science | Health Policy | Health Psychology | Preventive Medicine | Public Health Education and Promotion


CONTEXT: Collaborative groups are integral in health promotion and disease prevention and use an ecological approach to address complex health conditions in community settings. Little is known about collaborative efforts to promote active living.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this analysis is to explore successes and challenges of collaborative groups in promoting active living in their communities.

DESIGN/SETTING: One-time, structured telephone interviews were conducted to assess the composition tactics and activities and approaches used by collaboratives to promote active living.

PARTICIPANTS: Collaborative groups were referred by Physical Activity Policy Research Network members or found through online searches. Interviews were conducted with coordinators of 59 collaborative groups.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Analysis focused on successes and challenges of collaborative groups' policies, programs, and/or projects as described by collaborative group coordinators. We used the Grounded Theory method approach to code and abstract themes from 2 open-ended response sets.

RESULTS: Collaboratives' most successful projects centered on strategies using environmental (41%) or policy (31%) approaches to promote active living. While 80% of groups reported that their most successful project was funded, funding was also identified as a primary challenge for 71% of the collaboratives. Personnel issues were a common challenge for 54%. Opposition to successful projects ranged from community issues to collaborative member issues, although more than half the groups experienced no opposition.

CONCLUSIONS: Groups that aligned goals, strategies, and funding to advance changes to the built environment were likely to identify their projects as successful. Perceptions of opposition and attitudes toward success may be important precursors to project outcomes of active living collaboratives and warrant further investigation. Lessons from these active living collaborative groups can provide guidance for other groups planning for environmental and policy change.


active living, collaborative, environmental change, physical activity, policy change

DOI of Published Version



J Public Health Manag Pract. 2013 May-Jun;19(3 Suppl 1):S58-64. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318284b3c6. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of public health management and practice : JPHMP

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID