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Expanding the use of evidence-based behavioral interventions in community settings has met with limited success in various health outcomes as fidelity and dose of clinical interventions are often diluted when translated to communities. We conducted a pilot implementation study to examine adoption of the rigorously evaluated Healthier Families Program by Parks and Recreation centers in 3 cities across the country (MI, GA, NV) with diverse socio-cultural environments.
Using the RE-AIM framework, we evaluated the program both quantitatively (pre/post surveys of health behavior change; attendance & fidelity) and qualitatively (interviews with Parks and Recreation staff and participants following the program).
The 3 partner sites recruited a total of 26 parent-child pairs. REACH: Among the 24 participants who completed pre/post surveys, 62.5% were 25–34 years old, and average child age was 3.6 (SD 0.7) years. The distribution of self-reported race/ethnicity was 54% non-Hispanic White, 38% non-Hispanic Black, and 8% Latino. EFFECTIVENESS: Qualitative interviews with participants demonstrated increased use of the built environment for physical activity and continued use of key strategies for health behavior change. ADOPTION: Three of five (60%) collaborating sites proceeded with implementation of the program. IMPLEMENTATION: The average attendance for the 12-week program was 7.6 (SD 3.9) sessions, with 71% attending > 50% of sessions. Average fidelity for the 12 weekly sessions was 25.2 (SD 1.2; possible range 9–27). MAINTENANCE: All 3 partner sites continued offering the program after grant funding was complete.
This pilot is among the first attempts to scale-out an evidence-based childhood obesity intervention in community Parks and Recreation centers. While this pilot was not intended to confirm the efficacy of the original trial on Body Mass Index (BMI) reduction, the effective and sustained behavior change among a geographically and ethnically diverse population with high attendance and fidelity demonstrates an effective approach on which to base future large-scale implementation efforts to reduce childhood obesity in community settings.