Municipal Officials’ Perceived Barriers to Consideration of Physical Activity in Community Design Decision Making
Published Date:2013 May-Jun
Source:J Public Health Manag Pract. 19(3 Suppl 1):S65-S73.
Pubmed Central ID:PMC4928376
Funding:P30 DK092950/DK/NIDDK NIH HHS/United States
U48/DP001903/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
Built environment-focused interventions and policies are recommended as sustainable approaches for promoting physical activity. Physical activity has not traditionally been considered in land use and transportation decision making. Effective collaboration with non-public health partners requires knowledge of their perceived barriers to consideration of physical activity in decision making.
This study aimed to 1) identify barriers to the consideration of physical activity in community design and planning decisions among municipal decision makers and 2) explore differences in these barriers among a wide range of job functions and departments in a geographically diverse sample.
A web-based survey was conducted among municipal officials in 94 cities and towns with populations of at least 50,000 residents in eight states.
453 municipal officials from public health, planning, transportation/public works, community and economic development, parks and recreation, city management, and municipal legislatures responded to the survey.
Main Outcome Measures
Five barriers to consideration of physical activity in community design and layout were assessed.
The most common barriers included lack of political will (23.5%), limited staff (20.4%) and lack of collaboration across municipal departments (16.2%). Fewer participants reported opposition from the business community or residents as barriers. Compared to other professionals, public health department personnel were more likely to report the barriers of limited staff and lack of collaboration across municipal departments. They were also more likely to report lack of political will compared to city managers or mayors and municipal legislators.
Barriers to increasing consideration of physical activity in decision making about community design and layout are encouragingly low. Implications for public health practice include the need to strategically increase political will despite public health staffing constraints and perceived lack of collaboration with relevant departments such as planning and public works/transportation.
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