Open Access Open Badges Research

ParticipACTION: Baseline assessment of the 'new ParticipACTION': A quantitative survey of Canadian organizational awareness and capacity

Ronald C Plotnikoff12*, Ivan Todosijczuk3, Guy Faulkner4, Michael A Pickering3, Susan Cragg5, Karen Chad6, John C Spence3, Mark Tremblay7, Cora L Craig5, Adrian Bauman8, Larry Brawley6 and Lise Gauvin9

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health and the Faculty of Physical Education & Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2 School of Education, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2300, Australia

3 Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, E488 Van Vliet Centre, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H9, Canada

4 Faculty of Physical Education and Health, University of Toronto, 55 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 2W6, Canada

5 Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, 201-185 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON, K2P 0J2, Canada

6 College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, PAC 300 87 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5B2, Canada

7 Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, 401 Smyth Road, Ottawa, ON, K1H 8L1, Canada

8 School of Public Health, University of Sydney, K25 - Medical Foundation Building, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

9 Faculty of Medicine, Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, GRIS (Groupe de recherche interdisciplinaire en santé), Centre de recherche Léa-Roback sur les inégalités sociales de santé de Montréal, Université de Montréal, PO Box 6128, Downtown Station, Montreal, PQ., H3C 3J7, Canada

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2009, 6:86  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-6-86

Published: 9 December 2009



ParticipACTION is a Canadian physical activity (PA) communications and social marketing organization that was relaunched in 2007 after a six-year hiatus. This study assesses the baseline awareness and capacity of Canadian organizations that promote physical activity, to adopt, implement and promote ParticipACTION's physical activity campaign. The three objectives were: (1) to determine organizational awareness of both the 'original' and 'new' ParticipACTION; (2) to report baseline levels of three organizational capacity domains (i.e., to adopt, implement and externally promote physical activity initiatives); and, (3) to explore potential differences in those domains based on organizational size, sector and primary mandate.


Organizations at local, provincial/territorial, and national levels were sent an invitation via email prior to the official launch of ParticipACTION to complete an on-line survey. The survey assessed their organization's capacity to adopt, implement and externally promote a new physical activity campaign within their organizational mandates. Descriptive statistics were employed to address the first two study objectives. A series of one-way analysis of variance were conducted to examine the third objective.


The response rate was 29.7% (268/902). The majority of responding organizations had over 40 employees and had operated for over 10 years. Education was the most common primary mandate, followed by sport and recreation. Organizations were evenly distributed between government and not-for-profits. Approximately 96% of respondents had heard of the 'original' ParticipACTION while 54.6% had heard of the 'new' ParticipACTION (Objective 1). Findings indicate good organizational capacity in Canada to promote physical activity (Objective 2) based on reported means of approximately 4.0 (on 5-point scales) for capacity to adopt, implement, and externally promote new physical activity campaigns. Capacity to adopt new physical activity campaigns differed by organizational sector and mandate, and capacity to implement differed by organizational mandate (Objective 3).


At baseline, and without specific details of the campaign, respondents believe they have good capacity to work with ParticipACTION. ParticipACTION may do well to capitalize on the existing strong organizational capacity components of leadership, infrastructure and 'will' of national organizations to facilitate the success of its future campaigns.