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In-depth interviews with state public health practitioners on the United States National Physical Activity Plan

Kelly R Evenson1*, Sara B Satinsky1, Cheryl Valko2, Jeanette Gustat3, Isobel Healy3, Jill S Litt4, Steven P Hooker5, Hannah L Reed4 and Nancy O’Hara Tompkins6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 137 East Franklin Street, Suite 306, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA

2 Prevention Research Center, Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

3 Department of Epidemiology, Prevention Research Center, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

4 Department of Environmental Health, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora Colorado 80045, USA

5 Exercise and Wellness Program, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA

6 WV Prevention Research Center, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Public Health, West Virginia University, Morgantown, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:72  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-72

Published: 4 June 2013



The United States National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP; 2010), the country’s first national plan for physical activity, provides strategies to increase population-level physical activity to complement the 2008 physical activity guidelines. This study examined state public health practitioner awareness, dissemination, use, challenges, and recommendations for the NPAP.


In 2011–2012, we interviewed 27 state practitioners from 25 states. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were coded using a standard protocol, verified and reconciled by an independent coder, and input into qualitative software to facilitate development of common themes.


NPAP awareness was high among state practitioners; dissemination to local constituents varied. Development of state-level strategies and goals was the most frequently reported use of the NPAP. Some respondents noted the usefulness of the NPAP for coalitions and local practitioners. Challenges to the plan included implementation cost, complexity, and consistency with other policies. The most frequent recommendation made was to directly link examples of implementation activities to the plan.


These results provide early evidence of NPAP dissemination and use, along with challenges encountered and suggestions for future iterations. Public health is one of eight sectors in the NPAP. Further efforts are needed to understand uptake and use by other sectors, as well as to monitor long-term relevance, progress, and collaboration across sectors.

Evaluation; Intervention; National plan; Physical activity; Populations; Surveillance