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Open Access Research

Physical activity across the curriculum: year one process evaluation results

Cheryl A Gibson1*, Bryan K Smith2, Katrina D DuBose3, J Leon Greene4, Bruce W Bailey5, Shannon L Williams6, Joseph J Ryan7, Kristin H Schmelzle8, Richard A Washburn2, Debra K Sullivan9, Matthew S Mayo108 and Joseph E Donnelly2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Kansas School of Medicine, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Mail Stop 1020, Kansas City, KS, 66160, USA

2 The Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management, The Schiefelbusch Institute for Lifespan Studies, 1301 Sunnyside Ave, Robinson Center Rm 100, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 66045, USA

3 Department of Exercise & Sport Science, 174 Minges Coliseum, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, 27858, USA

4 Department of Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, 1301 Sunnyside Ave, Robinson Center Room 161, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 66045, USA

5 Department of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA, 02125-3393, USA

6 International Life Sciences Institute, Center for Health Promotion, Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) Program, 2295 Parklake Drive, Suite 450, Atlanta, GA, 30345, USA

7 Department of Psychology, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO, 64093, USA

8 Center for Biostatistics and Advanced Informatics, University of Kansas School of Medicine, 3901 Rainbow Blvd, Mail Stop 1026, Kansas City, KS, 66160, USA

9 Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, University of Kansas School of Allied Health, 3901 Rainbow Blvd, Mail Stop 4013, Kansas City, KS, 66160, USA

10 Department of Biostatistics, University of Kansas School of Medicine, 3901 Rainbow Blvd, Mail Stop 1026, Kansas City, KS, 66160, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2008, 5:36  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-5-36

Published: 7 July 2008

Abstract

Background

Physical Activity Across the Curriculum (PAAC) is a 3-year elementary school-based intervention to determine if increased amounts of moderate intensity physical activity performed in the classroom will diminish gains in body mass index (BMI). It is a cluster-randomized, controlled trial, involving 4905 children (2505 intervention, 2400 control).

Methods

We collected both qualitative and quantitative process evaluation data from 24 schools (14 intervention and 10 control), which included tracking teacher training issues, challenges and barriers to effective implementation of PAAC lessons, initial and continual use of program specified activities, and potential competing factors, which might contaminate or lessen program effects.

Results

Overall teacher attendance at training sessions showed exceptional reach. Teachers incorporated active lessons on most days, resulting in significantly greater student physical activity levels compared to controls (p < 0.0001). Enjoyment ratings for classroom-based lessons were also higher for intervention students. Competing factors, which might influence program results, were not carried out at intervention or control schools or were judged to be minimal.

Conclusion

In the first year of the PAAC intervention, process evaluation results were instrumental in identifying successes and challenges faced by teachers when trying to modify existing academic lessons to incorporate physical activity.