Engaging people with long-term health conditions in a community-based physical activity initiative: a qualitative follow-up study evaluating the parkrun PROVE project

QUIRK, Helen and HAAKE, Steve (2021). Engaging people with long-term health conditions in a community-based physical activity initiative: a qualitative follow-up study evaluating the parkrun PROVE project. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 13.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-021-00351-8


Abstract: Background: The “parkrun: running or volunteering for everyone” (PROVE) project was an example of a community-based physical activity and volunteering initiative for people living with long-term health conditions in England. The 3 year project involved appointing volunteer Outreach Ambassadors whose role was to promote parkrun to people living with long-term health conditions through various outreach activities. This qualitative study aimed to understand the experience of delivering the project from the perspective of volunteer Outreach Ambassadors and the PROVE Project Manager. Methods: The PROVE Project Manager and ten PROVE Outreach Ambassadors across nine health condition groups were interviewed by the researcher (asthma, blood pressure, deaf and hard of hearing, dementia, diabetes, endometriosis, heart conditions, learning disabilities and/or autism, and obesity). Interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Four themes and nine sub-themes were generated. The participants highlighted challenges in measuring the project’s success and bringing about meaningful and lasting change, and reflected on the value of the project as a learning opportunity. Despite some successes, it was thought that the project had limited reach outside of the existing parkrun community. The Outreach Ambassadors reflected on their experiences in the role and the skills required, finding it rewarding and highlighting the importance of networking and forming connections with key stakeholders. The findings are discussed in comparison to interviews conducted with the Outreach Ambassadors 12 months earlier. Conclusions: This study provides evidence to support the public health potential of parkrun though targeted initiatives such as the PROVE project and provides a critical reflection on what worked and what did not work when delivering the project. The findings have relevance for organisations wishing to implement similar outreach initiatives using a volunteer workforce, including recommendations for resource management, communication, leadership, fostering volunteer autonomy and defining and capturing success.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-021-00351-8
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2021 15:21
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2021 15:30
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/29173

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