Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Nicole Zarrett

Abstract

Physical inactivity has been identified as a primary health threat to youth, and existing afterschool programs (ASP) are a promising context for implementing physical activity (PA) interventions. However, few PA interventions have been effective and generalizability of programs has been poor. Assessing organizational readiness during the testing of a PA intervention can help inform generalizability and sustainability. The R=MC2 heuristic separates readiness into motivation, innovation-specific capacity, and general capacity, each of which are further divided into subcomponents. The current multiple-case study pilot tests the feasibility and effectiveness/efficacy of a readiness assessment tool based on R=MC2 developed for the Connect through PLAY intervention. Feasibility was determined by the effectiveness of measurement implementation; and effectiveness/efficacy was determined by the ability of the measure to detect differences between and within sites, the utility of the tool for understanding readiness in relation to staff roles and engagement, and program sustainability.

The study was divided into two aims. The first aim of the study includes examining variations in measurement implementation and recommended modifications for best ways to administer the tool. The second aim of the study has four part: 1) comparing readiness across ASP sites, 2) comparing differences in readiness by staff’s roles in the programs 3) comparing how staff rated readiness based on their engagement in the intervention, and 4) examining the utility of the tool for evaluating intervention sustainability through a six-month follow up assessment administered in the subsequent academic year at one of the sites. Staff in three existing ASPs serving middle school youth completed a baseline and post readiness assessment. Staff at one site participated in the six- month follow up assessment. Findings indicated the feasibility of administering the readiness assessment tool during program hours, ideally with staff separated from their colleagues and while they were not solely responsible for overseeing a group of youth. The tool demonstrated variation across programs and changes in readiness from baseline to post. In terms of variation by role, program coordinators rated readiness slightly higher than program staff, but program staff demonstrated more increased readiness at post. Findings for level of engagement showed that staff members who were more engaged rated the readiness subcomponents relative advantage and priority higher than minimally engaged staff. However, minimally engaged staff rated the intervention as higher in simplicity than highly engaged staff. The six-month follow up assessment showed that despite almost full staff turnover, support from the program coordinator could foster sustainability of the intervention. The findings of this study have implications for improving the generalizability and sustainability of PA interventions through the inclusion of readiness assessment, which can inform support provided to the ASPs.

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