Adoption, Sustainability, and Dissemination of Chronic Disease Prevention Policies in Community-Based Organizations

Health Promot Pract. 2021 Jan;22(1):72-81. doi: 10.1177/1524839919850757. Epub 2019 Jun 3.


Introduction. Despite increasing interest in structural (policy, systems, and environmental) changes to improve health, little attention has focused on the adoption, implementation, sustainability, and potential for dissemination of these changes among local community-based organizations. Method. A mixed methods approach was used for this process evaluation. Representatives of nine community-based organizations were surveyed using closed-ended questions and in-depth qualitative interviews to describe 32 policy changes. Diffusion of Innovation theory was used to inform the development of survey questions and the interview guide. Results. Policies adopted by local community-based organizations concerned types of food/beverages provided to staff/clients, methods to encourage physical activity, breastfeeding support, and tobacco control. The majority of the policies were either fully (66%) or partially (31%) implemented 1 year after their initial adoption. In general, participants somewhat/strongly agreed that policies had characteristics that predict sustainability/diffusion (relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, observability). In-depth interview responses described a generally smooth process for policy adoption and high levels of optimism for continued sustainability but revealed few efforts to disseminate the policies beyond the original organization. Conclusions. Structural changes in community-based organizations are a valuable tool for encouraging healthy changes in communities and have great potential to be adopted, sustained, and diffused.

Keywords: Diffusion of Innovation; chronic disease prevention and control; organizational policy; public health practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Policy