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ParticipACTION: Baseline assessment of the capacity available to the 'New ParticipACTION': A qualitative study of Canadian organizations

Guy Faulkner1*, Cora McCloy1, Ronald C Plotnikoff2, Adrian Bauman3, Larry R Brawley4, Karen Chad5, Lise Gauvin6, John C Spence7 and Mark S Tremblay8

Author Affiliations

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

2 University of Alberta, Centre for Health Promotion Studies - School of Public Health, and Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta. Edmonton, AB, TG6 2T4, Canada

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

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

5 Office of the VP - Research, University of Saskatchewan Box 5000 RPO University 110 Gymnasium Place, Saskatoon, SK S7N 4J8, Canada

6 Université de Montréal, 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, Centre de recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), POBox 6128, Downtown Station, Montreal, P.Q. H3C 3J7, Canada

7 University of Alberta, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, E 488 Van Vliet Centre, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H9, Canada

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

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2009, 6:87  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-6-87

Published: 9 December 2009



Evaluation of the original ParticipACTION campaign effects focused on individual awareness, recall, and understanding. Less studied has been the impact such campaigns have had on the broader organizational capacity to mobilize and advocate for physical activity. With the relaunch of ParticipACTION, the purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore baseline organizational capacity to promote physical activity messages, programs, and services within the Canadian context.


Using a purposeful sampling strategy, we conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with 49 key informants representing a range of national, provincial, and local organizations with a mandate to promote physical activity. Interview data were analysed using a thematic analytic approach.


Key informants painted a generally positive picture of current organizational capacity to promote physical activity messages, programs, and services in Canada. Will and leadership were clear strengths while infrastructure limitations remained the greatest concern. Some specific challenges included: 1) funding issues: the absence of core funding in a climate of shifting funding priorities; 2) the difficulty of working without a national physical activity policy (lack of leadership); 3) inconsistent provincial and educational sector level policies; and 4) a persistent focus on obesity rather than physical inactivity.


The data generated here can be utilized to monitor the future impact of ParticipACTION on enhancing and utilizing this organizational capacity. A range of indicators are suggested that could be used to illustrate ParticipACTION's impact on the broad field of physical activity promotion in the future.