Adopting an evidence-based lifestyle physical activity program: Dissemination study design and methods

Academic Article


  • There is a scarcity of research studies that have examined academic-commercial partnerships to disseminate evidence-based physical activity programs. Understanding this approach to dissemination is essential because academic-commercial partnerships are increasingly common. Private companies have used dissemination channels and strategies to a degree that academicians have not, and declining resources require academicians to explore these partnerships. This paper describes a retrospective case-control study design including the methods, demographics, organizational decision making, implementation rates, and marketing strategy for Active Living Every Day (ALED), an evidence-based lifestyle physical activity program that has been commercially available since 2001. Evidence-based public health promotion programs rely on organizations and targeted sectors to disseminate these programs although relatively little is known about organizational-level and sector-level influences that lead to their adoption and implementation. Cases (n = 154) were eligible if they had signed an ALED license agreement with Human Kinetics (HK), publisher of the program's textbooks and facilitator manuals, between 2001 and 2008. Two types of controls were matched (2:2:1) and stratified by sector and region. Active controls (control 1; n = 319) were organizations that contacted HK to consider adopting ALED. Passive controls (control 2; n = 328) were organizations that received unsolicited marketing materials and did not initiate contact with HK. We used Diffusion of Innovations Theory constructs as the basis for developing the survey of cases and controls. Using the multi-method strategy recommended by Dillman, a total of n = 801 cases and controls were surveyed. Most organizations were from the fitness sector followed by medical, non-governmental, governmental, educational, worksite, and other sectors with significantly higher response rates from government, educational, and medical sectors compared with fitness and other sectors, (p = 0. 02). More cases reported being involved in the decision to adopt ALED (p < 0. 0001). Data indicate that a low percentage of controls had ever heard of ALED despite repeated marketing and offering other types of physical activity programs and services. Finally, slightly over half of the adopters reported they had actually implemented the ALED program. Dissemination research requires new perspectives and designs to produce valid insights about the results of dissemination efforts. This study design, survey methods and theoretically based questions can serve as a useful model for other evidence-based public health interventions that are marketed by commercial publishers to better understand key issues related to adoption and implementation of evidence-based programs. © 2011 Society of Behavioral Medicine.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Dunn AL; Buller DB; Dearing JW; Cutter G; Guerra M; Wilcox S; Bettinghaus EP
  • Start Page

  • 199
  • End Page

  • 208
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 2