In response to Special Interest Project 14-025, this application will establish the UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center (PRC) as a Collaborative Center of the Physical Activity Policy Research Network Plus (PAPRN+). The proposed application builds from our previous success as a funded PAPRN site for the 2009-2014 cycle and has three primary goals. Goal 1 is to conduct cutting edge, multi-disciplinary physical activity policy research. This includes leading and collaborating on multi-site research studies that align with policy, research and evaluation gaps relevant to CDC's State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and Associated Risk Factors and Promote School Health (1305 program) and the National Physical Activity Plan. Goal 2 is to strengthen the field of physical activity policy research by collaborating with diverse stakeholders to facilitate translation of research to practice. We have established unique partnerships that will guide our work to ensure relevance to stakeholders. Partners include the National Association of City and County Health Officials;state, regional and municipal officials in planning, transportation and health;transportation researchers;and ChangeLab Solutions. We will work with the PAPRN+ network to establish a sustainable collaborative forum and serve as a model for research-practice collaboration. Goal 3 is to promote utilization of PAPRN+ research findings to inform public health practice. With guidance from our partners, this will involve widespread dissemination of research findings and provision of technical assistance to state and local health departments. We will also work with all members of the PAPRN+ network to establish dissemination guidelines, benchmarks, contacts and templates to facilitate these processes network-wide. The proposed initial PAPRN+ project advances our research agenda: to increase the capacity of local health departments to effectively collaborate on municipal policy agendas that impact the built environment and physical activity. Our previous research indicates that while local health officials prioritize physical activity as a key job responsibility and participate in coalitions tht aim to promote physical activity, they do not routinely participate meaningfully in the municipal polic process and perceive more barriers in doing so than officials from departments. There is an urgent need to identify and prioritize relevant policy process activities through which local healt departments can influence the built environment to support increased walking.
The Specific Aims of this project are: 1) To utilize a multidisciplinary Expert Panel to define roles and responsibilities for local health officials in the built environment policy process;2) To establis a framework to achieve core competencies for local health officials for participating in this process;3) To assess local health officials'experiences participating in the roles and responsibilities defined in Aim 1 and capabilities and capacities regarding the core competencies defined in Aim 2;and 4) To assess their training and technical assistance preferences among a national sample.
This project establishes the UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center (UMW-PRC) as a member of the CDC's Physical Activity Policy Research Network Plus. Local health departments are charged with improving community opportunity for physical activity through involvement in land use and transportation policy processes. However, these departments have little training or experience in doing so. The UMW-PRC will lead a research program intended to improve the capacity of local health departments to participate in municipal transportation and land use processes.