Involving Community Stakeholders to Increase Park Use and Physical Activity

Published in: Preventive Medicine, v. 64, July 2014, p. 14-19

Posted on RAND.org on July 01, 2014

by Kathryn Pitkin Derose, Terry Marsh, Mark Mariscal, Sophia Pina-Cortez, Deborah Cohen

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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to describe implementation of a randomized controlled trial of community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches to increase park use and physical activity across 33 diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles. METHODS: Fifty parks were randomly assigned based on park size, facilities and programs, and neighborhood socio-demographic characteristics to: park director (PD, 17 parks); PD and park advisory board of interested community members (PD + PAB, 16 parks); and no-intervention control (17 parks) arms. Between 2007 and 2012, PDs and PABs from the 33 intervention parks participated in community engagement, baseline assessment, marketing training, intervention design and implementation, and follow-up assessment. RESULTS: Intervention parks (PD and PD + PAB) invested in new and diversified signage, promotional items, outreach or support for group activities like fitness classes and walking clubs, and various marketing strategies. Scaling up CBPR methods across parks in 33 diverse neighborhoods was challenging. Working with departmental management and established structures for community input (PABs) and park policy (PDs) facilitated implementation and sustainability. CONCLUSION: Scaling up CBPR methods across diverse communities involved tradeoffs. CBPR is useful for tailoring research and enhancing community impact and sustainability, but more work is needed to understand how to conduct multi-site trials across diverse settings using CBPR.

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