Concept Mapping: Priority Community Strategies to Create Changes to Support Active Living

The Active Living by Design (ALbD) program evaluation used concept mapping to identify promising strategies to support active living as generated by community representatives involved in the program, including changes to the built and natural environment, partnerships and collaboration efforts, and land-use and transportation policies.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living by Design program included 25 community partnerships that worked to create a built environment that fosters physical activity. As a part of ALbD’s evaluation, concept mapping was used to generate, analyze, and interpret promising strategies to support active living as generated by community representatives involved in the program. Using concept mapping software, the 25 ALbD communities were able to participate in a collaborative effort to understand both short-term and long-term changes to improve community health. Statements were anonymously generated by 43 community representatives using a web portal, which resulted in 79 condensed statements. Then, 25 respondents from 23 partnerships sorted the 79 statements into self-created categories before rating the statements on importance. Data were assessed using cluster analysis and multidimensional scaling.

Key Findings:

  • The highest priority identified was changes to the built and natural environment that created opportunities for active living.
  • Another priority was partnership and collaboration efforts that brought diverse partners together to improve active living within a community.
  • The third priority identified was land use and transportation policies, especially those that incorporated active living principles into the design of a community.
  • The rankings of these priorities differed among community partnerships working with population subgroups, including racial and ethnic minority populations, low-income population, and rural populations.

While this study provides important information on the community changes, more research is needed to understand the relevance of different strategies among unique communities.