A Participatory Regional Partnership Approach to Promote Nutrition and Physical Activity Through Environmental and Policy Change in Rural Missouri

Ellen K Barnidge, Elizabeth A Baker, Amy Estlund, Freda Motton, Pamela R Hipp, Ross C Brownson
Preventing Chronic Disease 2015, 12: E92

BACKGROUND: Rural residents are less likely than urban and suburban residents to meet recommendations for nutrition and physical activity. Interventions at the environmental and policy level create environments that support healthy eating and physical activity.

COMMUNITY CONTEXT: Healthier Missouri Communities (Healthier MO) is a community-based research project conducted by the Prevention Research Center in St. Louis with community partners from 12 counties in rural southeast Missouri. We created a regional partnership to leverage resources and enhance environmental and policy interventions to improve nutrition and physical activity in rural southeast Missouri.

METHODS: Partners were engaged in a participatory action planning process that included prioritizing, implementing, and evaluating promising evidence-based interventions to promote nutrition and physical activity. Group interviews were conducted with Healthier MO community partners post intervention to evaluate resource sharing and sustainability efforts of the regional partnership.

OUTCOME: Community partners identified the benefits and challenges of resource sharing within the regional partnership as well as the opportunities and threats to long-term partnership sustainability. The partners noted that the regional participatory process was difficult, but the benefits outweighed the challenges.

INTERPRETATION: Regional rural partnerships may be an effective way to leverage relationships to increase the capacity of rural communities to implement environmental and policy interventions to promote nutrition and physical activity.

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