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Am J Prev Med. 2015 Oct;49(4):631-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.06.019.

Operational Implementation of the Healthy Communities Study: How Communities Shape Children's Health.

Author information

Battelle Health and Analytics, St. Louis, Missouri. Electronic address:
Battelle Health and Analytics, Arlington, Virginia.
Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.
Work Group for Community Health and Development, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.
Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley, California.
Battelle Health and Analytics, Columbus, Ohio.
Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley, California; Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California, Oakland, California.
Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland.
National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Maryland.


The Healthy Communities Study (HCS) is examining how characteristics of community programs and policies targeting childhood obesity are related to childhood diet, physical activity, and obesity outcomes. The study involves selected districts and public schools in 130 communities; families recruited through schools; and data collected at the community, school, household, and child levels. Data collection took place in two waves-Wave 1 in Spring 2012 and Wave 2 from 2013 to 2015-with analysis to be completed by August 2016. This paper describes operational elements of the HCS, including recruitment activities, field operations, training of data collectors, human subjects protection, and quality assurance and quality control procedures. Experienced trainers oversaw and conducted all training, including training of (1) district and school recruitment staff; (2) telephone interviewers for household screening and recruitment; (3) field data collectors for conducting household data collection; and (4) community liaisons for conducting key informant interviews, document abstraction, and community observations. The study team developed quality assurance and quality control procedures that were implemented for all aspects of the study. Planning and operationalizing a study of this complexity and magnitude, with multiple functional teams, required frequent communication and strong collaboration among all study partners to ensure timely and effective decision making.

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