Advancing environmental and policy change through active living collaboratives: compositional and stakeholder engagement correlates of group effectiveness.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to evaluate compositional factors, including collaborative age and size, and community, policy, and political engagement activities that may influence collaboratives' effectiveness in advancing environmental improvements and policies for active living. DESIGN/PARTICIPANTS/SETTING: Structured interviews were conducted with collaboratives' coordinators. Survey items included organizational composition, community, policy, and political engagement activities and reported environmental improvements and policy change. Descriptive statistics and multivariate models were used to investigate these relationships. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Environmental improvement and policy change scores reflecting level of collaborative effectiveness across 8 strategy areas (eg, parks and recreation, transit, streetscaping, and land redevelopment). RESULTS: Fifty-nine collaborative groups participated in the interview, representing 22 states. Groups have made progress in identifying areas for environmental improvements and in many instances have received funding to support these changes. Results from multivariate models indicate that engagement in media communication and advocacy was statistically correlated with higher levels of environmental improvement, after adjusting for age of group and area poverty levels (P < .01). Groups that frequently solicited endorsements from community leaders and offered testimony in policy or legal hearings reported significantly more policy change, after adjusting for age of group and area poverty levels (P < .01 for both). CONCLUSIONS: Active living collaboratives are translating the evidence on environmental and policy approaches to promote active living from research to practice. Investing in community and policy engagement activities may represent important levers for achieving structural and policy changes to the built environment.