Imminent changes in policies or environments (i.e., “natural experiments”) can provide researchers with a unique opportunity to evaluate the before and after impacts of the change on a variety of health outcomes, including physical activity even if the policy or environmental changes were not primarily geared toward health behavior change. These pre-post test evaluations can offer valuable information that typical cross sectional studies cannot.
This webinar, designed primarily for researchers, featureed two leading researchers who discussed the design and methods of conducting pre-post studies around changes in public transportation infrastructure, the challenges that can arise when conducting these studies, lessons learned, and recommendations for other researchers who are looking carry out their own pre-post study. The speakers discussed their own experiences conducting pre-post studies in transit projects. Dr. Saelens focused on integrating measurements to obtain assessments of transit-specific physical activity, cross-sectional versus longitudinal findings differences, and case/control selection. Dr. Brown discussed the importance of using objective measures of activity, such as GPS and accelerometer measures, in these studies.
The webinar recording is available at the above link. A PDF of the presentation slides as well as questions and answers from the webinar are available below.
Transit and Physical Activity Studies: Design and Measures Considerations From the TRAC Study, Brian Saelens, PhD, University of Washington
Questions to Ask Before You Research Natural Experiments in Transit & Physical Activity: Illustrations from the Moving Across Places Study (MAPS), Barbara Brown, PhD, University of Utah
Brian Saelens, PhD, Professor, School of Medicine, University of Washington
Dr. Saelens is trained as a clinical/health psychologist. His research interests include obesity treatment and prevention, especially examining environmental factors and policies that influence physical activity and eating behaviors in children and adults.
Barbara Brown, PhD, Professor, Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah
Barbara Brown is an environmental psychologist. Her research relates physical environments to important outcomes such as physical activity, BMI, and neighborhood perceptions such as fear of crime. Her current research examines these outcomes in relation to a “complete street” addition of light rail, better sidewalks and a bike path to Salt Lake City. Both GPS and accelerometer measures were used before and after the complete street renovation to track residents’ physical activities and travel patterns.
Chad Spoon, MRP, Active Living Research, webinar moderator
Chad is Communications & Partnership Manager for Active Living Research, where he focuses on providing credible and action-oriented research results that address the root causes of childhood obesity and physical inactivity. He offers ongoing technical assistance and training to researchers and practitioners and assists with the translation and dissemination of research results.