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Improving physical activity program adoption using integrated research-practice partnerships: an effectiveness-implementation trial

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Translational Behavioral Medicine


Integrated research-practice partnerships (IRPPs) may improve adoption of evidence-based programs. The aim of this study is to compare adoption of an IRPP-developed physical activity (PA) program (Fit Extension, FitEx) to a typical efficacy-effectiveness-dissemination pipeline model program (Active Living Every Day, ALED). Guided by the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework, a randomized controlled trial assigned health educators (HEs) to FitEx (n = 18) or ALED (n = 18). Fourteen HEs adopted FitEx, while two HEs adopted ALED (χ 2 = 21.8; p < 0.05). FitEx HEs took less time to deliver (p < 0.05), stated greater intentions for continued program delivery (p < 0.05), and reached more participants (n = 1097 total; 83 % female; 70 % Caucasian; M age = 44 ± 11.8) per HE than ALED (n = 27 total; 60 % female; 50 % Caucasian; M age = 41 ± 11.3). No significant difference existed in FitEx or ALED participants’ increased PA (M increase = 9.12 ±29.09  min/day; p > 0.05). IRPP-developed programs may improve PA program adoption, implementation, and maintenance and may also result in programs that have higher reach—without reducing effectiveness.

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We would like to acknowledge the health educators who provided us with these data as well as Joan Wages who led the training sessions.

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Correspondence to Paul A. Estabrooks PhD.

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The authors declared that they have no competing interests.

Adherence to ethical principles

This study followed accepted principles of ethical and professional conduct. The study received expedited review by the Virginia Tech Institutional Review Board (no. 08-466).

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Practice: The integrated research-practice partnership approach to program development and delivery may improve the rate at which decision-makers adopt and implement evidence-based programs in a delivery system.

Policy: Infrastructure that supports the development and use of integrated research-practice partnerships may more swiftly impact public health.

Research: Partnering with representatives from the intended delivery system may allow for appropriate tailoring and improve the perceptions of evidence-based programming.

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Harden, S.M., Johnson, S.B., Almeida, F.A. et al. Improving physical activity program adoption using integrated research-practice partnerships: an effectiveness-implementation trial. Behav. Med. Pract. Policy Res. 7, 28–38 (2017).

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