Evaluating the Implementation of a Before-School Physical Activity Program: A Mixed-Methods Approach in Massachusetts, 2018

Prev Chronic Dis. 2020 Oct 1;17:E116. doi: 10.5888/pcd17.190445.


Purpose and objectives: Our aim was to evaluate the implementation of a widely available, before-school, physical activity program in a low-resource, racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse, urban school setting to identify adaptations needed for successful implementation.

Intervention approach: We used a collaborative effort with stakeholders to implement the Build Our Kids' Success (BOKS) program in 3 schools in Revere, Massachusetts. Program structure followed a preexisting curriculum, including 60-minute sessions, 3 mornings per week, over 2 sessions (spring and fall 2018). Programs had a capacity of 40 students per school per session and the ability to adapt as needed.

Evaluation methods: We used a mixed-methods approach, guided by the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework. RE-AIM domains were assessed by use of baseline and follow-up student measures, parent interviews, and program administrative records.

Results: From a district of 11 schools, 3 schools (2 elementary, 1 middle) implemented the BOKS program. Program enrollment reached 82% capacity (188 of 230 potential participants). Of the 188 enrolled students, 128 (68%) had parental consent for study participation. Among the 128 study participants, 61 (48%) were male, 52 (41%) identified as Hispanic/Latino, and mean age was 9.3 years (SD, 2.2). Program duration varied by school (25-60 minutes), with a mean of 33% (SD, 16%) of the session spent in actigraphy-measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), or mean 16.3 (SD, 9.3) minutes of MVPA. Participants attended a median 90% (interquartile range [IQR], 56%-97%) of sessions. We observed no change in body mass index (BMI) z score or self-reported quality of life from baseline to follow-up assessment. Parents reported positive program effects. Enrollment was sustained in elementary schools and decreased in the middle school during the study period, expanding to 3 additional schools for spring 2019.

Implications for public health: Implementation and evaluation of an evidence-based physical activity program, in a low-resource setting, are feasible and yield relevant information about program adaptations and future dissemination of similar programs.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Day Care Centers / economics
  • Child Day Care Centers / organization & administration*
  • Curriculum*
  • Exercise*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality of Life
  • Schools / organization & administration
  • Urban Population