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Am J Health Promot. 2010 Jan-Feb;24(3):190-8. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.08022216.

Disseminating health promotion practices in after-school programs through YMCA learning collaboratives.

Author information

  • 1Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. jean.wiecha@umb.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

We describe the perceived usefulness of a learning collaborative for translating obesity prevention science into practice at YMCA after-school programs.

APPROACH:

We conducted mixed-methods research to identify beneficial aspects of the collaborative and to assess perceived effect of the collaborative on ability to meet goals.

SETTING:

Sixty-one YMCA after-school programs serving roughly 2500 children in 21 states.

PARTICIPANTS:

After-school program staff attending learning sessions for the collaborative.

INTERVENTION:

YMCA learning collaboratives comprise a structured organizational change process delivered during 9 to 12 months that aim to empower staff to find local methods for achieving specific program outcomes related to diet and physical activity.

RESEARCH METHOD:

Eight focus groups conducted during the collaboratives assessed their usefulness. A post hoc Web-based follow-up survey (39 respondents; response rate, 40.6%) assessed final perceived effect.

RESULTS:

Qualitative and quantitative data were highly positive about the usefulness of the collaborative. The collaboratives' duration, peer learning, multilevel staff involvement, focus on creating a supportive organization, and regular coaching support enabled many respondents to make program and policy changes consistent with project goals. There was consensus that executive-level commitment to the work was critical.

CONCLUSION:

Learning collaboratives are a promising tool for embedding health promotion practices in existing after-school programs through a structured organizational change process.

PMID:
20073386
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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