Texas Christian University Pilot Evaluation Project

Texas Christian University Pilot Evaluation Project

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AACN and the CDC Academic Partnership Project is pleased to announce Texas Christian University School of Nursing awardee for the pilot evaluation project to increase the evidence base in the impact of academic/practice partnerships in public/population health.

The small grants are intended to support primary and secondary data analysis focused on the impacts of selected interventions undertaken as part of an existing academic/practice partnership that involves an academic partner together with a public health or population health focused community partner and/or a local health department. See below for a summary overview of their pilot evaluation project.

Overview of Evaluation

Academic and community partnerships can contribute to positive changes in public/population health. In order to impact the health of school-age children in our community, Texas Christian University initiated a partnership in 2008 with Mansfield Independent School District (MISD) and Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) to develop a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program that would foster healthy physical activity for students and their families. The program’s goal was to increase student walking and bicycling (referred to as Active School Transport [AST]) to school through building a physical and cultural environment that was safe and accessible.

Evaluation of any project is vital to establish efficacy and prior to replication. While most evaluations of SRTS programs focus on immediate behavior changes, such as an increase in AST or traffic behaviors, this type of evaluation does not focus on other important aspects that affect AST behaviors. Children do not make the decision to walk or bike to school alone. Factors such as perceptions of parents, the community, and the built environment impact the decision to allow children to walk or ride to school. Creating a culture where walking or biking to school or other places is valued is an important and understudied outcome of SRTS programs.  Communities are dynamic and evolving, therefore it is imperative to evaluate long term impact of all factors contributing to AST behaviors within the context of the community’s changing environment and perceptions.

TCU, MISD, and Tarrant County Public Health will continue their partnership to evaluate 3 research questions. 1. What is the effect over time of increasing AST awareness in the community? 2. How did the SRTS program impact the built environment? 3. What is the community’s perception of the SRTS program, the impact of the program on the community, and AST? Research will utilize mixed methods and will employ senior nursing students in Public Health Practicums to conduct research activities. Methods will include surveys, evaluation of the built environment, and focus groups. Findings from the evaluation research will inform the continuation, design, and implementation of future SRTS partnerships in Tarrant County and beyond.