Policy Environments Challenge Complex Systems Approaches to Physical Activity Promotion. Why, and What Can We Do About It?

Rigby, B. , Dodd-Reynolds, C. and Oliver, E. (2022) Policy Environments Challenge Complex Systems Approaches to Physical Activity Promotion. Why, and What Can We Do About It? UKSBM 17th Annual Scientific Meeting, 30-31 Mar 2022. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Background: Complexity and systems-thinking are increasingly considered in solutions to address behaviour-related public health issues such as physical inactivity. However, their application in physical activity (PA) policy contexts has avoided critical scrutiny. With a focus on agency, this paper provides an exploration of the understanding and influence of complexity among key policy stakeholders, and how to optimise the application of complex systems approaches to physical activity policy, including by whom, how and in what circumstances. Methods: A half-day Zoom workshop was convened with a purposively sampled group of key PA policy stakeholders and academics. Facilitated breakout groups and plenary sessions were used to reflect on previous research, stimulating changes in systemic cultures and practices, and mobilising knowledge about complexity and systems. Data were captured using Padlet (a digital whiteboard), fieldnotes and audio-visual recordings. A realist-informed thematic analysis was performed to identify salient patterns in the data. Results: Analyses resulted in four propositions for advancing complex systems approaches through physical activity policy: i) the policy environment is non-conducive to these approaches; ii) influencing policy is key to system change; iii) creating connections and dialogue fosters system awareness and affiliation; and iv) increasing the focus on agency can support those seeking to effect system change. Examples of the context and mechanisms that influence the propagation of these ideas are discussed. Conclusions: This research sets out important considerations that have previously received insufficient attention, and rendered efforts to stimulate system change for physical activity promotion. Reorientation of focus across research, policy and practice will contribute to the mobilisation and application of complex systems approaches in both physical activity policy settings, as well as efforts to increase population-level physical activity behaviour more generally.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Status:Unpublished
Refereed:No
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Rigby, Mr Benjamin
Authors: Rigby, B., Dodd-Reynolds, C., and Oliver, E.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the Author
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