CLAHRC West selected as evaluation partner for whole systems physical activity project

17 July 2019

NIHR CLAHRC West and the University of Bristol’s School for Policy Studies have been selected as evaluation partner for a novel whole systems approach to physical activity in Gloucestershire.

Two thirds of people living in Gloucestershire don’t meet the Government’s physical activity recommendations. Active Gloucestershire, a charity based in Gloucester, has secured funding over three years to develop and deliver Gloucestershire Moves, the whole systems approach to address physical inactivity. A whole systems approach looks at the complex web of factors that cause a problem, and then aims to identify parts of the system that can be changed.

Physical activity is a major public health issue in many rich countries. In England, one in four women and one in five men are classified as physically inactive, which means they do less than 30 minutes of moderate activity a week. Four in ten adults don’t meet the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity a week.

There are many complex reasons for physical inactivity across a population. A recent academic paper identified 45 factors which may cause physical inactivity – from air quality, to cycling infrastructure, to an individuals’ level of disposable income.

Gloucestershire Moves aims to help 30,000 people become active, which is defined as doing 150 minutes or more of activity a week. To achieve this, they want to make physical activity the norm across Gloucestershire. They are targeting the physical environment including transport infrastructure, workplaces, communities and schools. This requires help and support from everyone working in Gloucestershire, including the County Council, the NHS trusts, the voluntary and community sector and citizens themselves.

This work will use the principles of realist evaluation, which looks at what works in different contexts to help to change Gloucestershire’s physical activity system.

Deborah Potts, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Moves, said:

“Gloucestershire Moves combines a whole systems approach with behaviour change modelling and movement building. It is the first time these three models have been bought together to try and shift physical activity levels so there is a lot to learn. We are delighted to have CLAHRC West supporting us with this learning and anticipate they will play a significant role in shaping the programme over the next three years.”