Physical Activity Levels Among Participants in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Diabetes Initiative

The Diabetes Initiative, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), was a self-management initiative conducted in real-world settings for individuals with type 2 diabetes. This initiative aimed to assess the changes in physical activity over time of participants, and ascertain the factors influencing participation in physical activity.

This study examined the comprehensive model for diabetes self-management in a cohort of 622 largely lower-income and ethnic minority program participants. The study specifically looked at the increase of physical activity during participation in the clinical and community-based programs. Over an 8-month time period, researchers conducted two telephone surveys (Time 1 and Time 2) of participants' self-reported physical activity levels.

Key Findings:

  • Eighteen percent of individuals enrolled in the Diabetes Initiative reported being inactive at Time 1. This percentage decreased to 12 percent at Time 2.
  • At Time 2, 44 percent of individuals enrolled in the Diabetes Initiative reported participating in some physical activity, but insufficient amounts, as compared to 40 percent at Time 1.
  • The amount of participants sufficiently active to meet public health guidelines rose from 41 percent at Time 1 to 44 percent at Time 2.
  • Greater intervention intensity; being male, younger and speaking English; and having greater self-efficacy, a lower BMI, and a health care provider who assisted in finding physical activity resources were all associated with sufficient physical activity.

The study concluded that the factors of intervention design, and personal and behavioral patterns are related to physical activity level of initiative participants. The researchers acknowledged the limitations of the study, including the lack of a control group, and the real-world constraints on the design of the evaluation and data collection.