Active Living by Design (ALbD) community partnerships that did more preparation did implement more programs, promotions, physical projects, and policy influences. But partnerships working in non-White and poor communities implemented fewer interventions, according to this exploratory analysis to detect configurations of community characteristics.
The ALbD initiative funded 25 community partnerships across the U.S. from 2003-2008; these partnerships were charged with using five “community action” strategies to change environments and policies to make it easier for people to lead active daily lives. Assessing the impact of interventions across communities presents “wicked problems” for evaluators: physical activity levels can be impacted by many interrelated pathways, and community-level interventions are inherently complex, with new actions overlaid on existing environments. This exploratory analysis, part of a three-year cross-site evaluation started in Year Three of ALbD funding, uses the innovative methods of “configural frequency analysis” to examine underlying configurations of community characteristics. The study relies on data from focus groups, interviews, and the ALbD Progress Reporting System.
Noting this analysis provides more questions than answers, the authors outline practical areas of further inquiry for those working to improve active living interventions.