Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Exercise Science

First Advisor

Russell R Pate


Physical inactivity has been labeled a global pandemic with enormous economic, social, environmental, and public health consequences. The vast majority of American adults and youth are insufficiently physically active. Increasing population-levels of physical activity (PA) requires broad social and environmental change. PA coalitions provide the structure through which such broad change can be achieved. An extensive literature on health-based coalitions suggests that coalition success is impacted by coalition members. Coalitions are generally comprised of member organizations. Little is known about the characteristics of PA coalitions and less is known about organizational member involvement in PA coalitions. The purpose of this dissertation was to develop a survey instrument for measuring organizational member involvement in PA coalitions. The dissertation also provides descriptive characteristics of local-, state-, and national-level PA coalitions across the United States. Additionally, the dissertation provides descriptive characteristics of organizational members of PA coalitions across the U.S. Finally, the dissertation examines whether or not there is an association between organizational member involvement and physical activity coalition success as perceived by representatives of member organizations. The dissertation used a cross-sectional design and applied both qualitative and quantitative methods. The objective of the first study was to expand our knowledge of factors related to organizations' decisions to join and remain committed to the coalition that developed and launched the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP). Qualitative semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with fourteen key informants representing thirteen of the NPAP coalition's partner organizations. Five primary factors for organizational membership emerged: (1) Strategic Alignment; (2) Organizational Alignment; (3) Providing Input; (4) Seminal Event; and (5) Cost/Benefit Ratio.

The second study was conducted in three phases and resulted in a psychometrically sound instrument for measuring organizational member involvement in PA coalitions. The study's three phases were: (1) Development of a draft survey based on the qualitative analysis of organizational members from the NPAP coalition; (2) Assessment of the content validity of the draft survey to produce a final survey; and (3) Conduct of an exploratory factor analysis to assess the final survey's psychometric properties. The final survey was administered to 120 individuals who represent organizations that were members of PA coalitions across the U.S. The exploratory factor analysis yielded a three-factor model with the following subscales: Strategic Alignment, Organizational Alignment, and Providing Input. Each of the survey's three subscales demonstrated high internal consistency reliability as follows: Strategic Alignment (Cronbach's alpha = 0.94); Organizational Alignment (Cronbach's alpha = 0.83); and Providing Input (Cronbach's alpha = 0.88). Each of the subscales also demonstrated sufficient construct validity, being significantly positively correlated with two previously validated subscales (Coalition Satisfaction, Coalition Outcome Efficacy) for which a positive correlation should theoretically exist.

The third study described the characteristics of PA coalitions and their organizational members, and investigated the association between factors for organizational membership and coalition success. Overall, PA coalitions were found to be working in a diverse range of settings including: Schools (78%); Built environment (58%); Workplace (58%); and Public Health (53%). Those coalitions were reported to have pursued a broad range of initiatives including: Advocacy to promote active living (78%); Changes to/formation of policy (71%); and Expanding their network of partners (52%). Most types organizational members of PA coalitions were Government agencies (48%) or Non-profit organizations (40%). Organizational members worked across a variety of settings including: Public Health (41%); Education (21%); Health Care (15%). Overall, mean scale scores for Strategic Alignment, Organizational Alignment, and Providing Input were high for all types of organizational members though some differences by organizational member type were noted. Factors for organizational membership were associated with coalition success. Pooled t-tests revealed statistically significant differences between each factor for organizational membership (Strategic Alignment, Organizational Alignment, and Providing Input) and high and low levels of perceived coalition success (Coalition Satisfaction, and Coalition Outcome Efficacy).

In summary, this dissertation produced a psychometrically sound survey instrument for measuring key aspects of organizational membership in PA coalitions. This project shows that building and maintaining successful PA coalitions may hinge upon the ability to understand and demonstrate how organizational members benefit from: strategically aligning with the coalition; aligning with the coalition's other organizational members; and providing input on the coalition's activities.