Prevention-Research-Centers-make-impact-on-policies-systems-and-environments

Prevention Research Centers make impact on policies, systems, and environments

When working toward environmental changes, several Prevention Research Centers across the country have been successful thanks to specific steps they each followed. Researchers from seven PRCs across the country, including the Tulane Prevention Research Center, collaborated to evaluate their centers' work and published their findings in the October issue of Preventing Chronic Disease.

The PRCs used a framework created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine policy, systems, and environmental interventions to support healthy behaviors that were part of the seven PRCs' work. By following the steps in the framework, researchers determined that the PRCs' work was successful, said Jeanette Gustat, who was an author on the study as a Tulane PRC faculty researcher and associate professor in epidemiology at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“The framework is important because it gives structure to public health work around policy, systems, and environmental changes, and it allows us to see we're making an impact and can be used to guide future interventions,” Gustat said.

The six steps in the framework, called Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health, are: engaging stakeholders, describing the program, focusing the evaluation design, gathering credible evidence, justifying conclusions, and ensuring use and sharing lessons learned.

The Tulane PRC highlighted its Partnership for an Active Community Environment (PACE) project in the recent findings. In this project, the Tulane PRC partnered with neighborhood community groups and the City of New Orleans to install a 6-block walking path in 2007 along St. Roch Avenue that connected the businesses along St. Claude Avenue to the St. Roch Park. Physical activity in the neighborhood was observed and recorded before and after the path was built and was found to have significantly increased.

“When the Tulane PRC used the CDC's framework for our PACE project, we saw a significant increase in outdoor activity – roughly 12 percent – compared to two other neighborhoods that had similar characteristics but did not have a walking path,” Gustat said.

To read more about the PRCs’ findings, view the October issue of Preventing Chronic Disease.

By Naomi King Englar, Tulane PRC staff
December 2015

Topics:   built environment , policy , walking , sidewalks , physical activity , community advisory board , community health

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