Overcoming Barriers to Walk With Ease Implementation in Community Organizations

Apr 02, 2021 | Vilen

INTRODUCTION: The Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease (WWE) program has been shown to reduce arthritis symptoms and increase physical performance for up to 1 year. However, research on community-based WWE implementation is limited. The purpose of this study was to examine early implementation at community organizations that received 1-year WWE implementation grants from the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance.

METHOD: Program managers at five Osteoarthritis Action Alliance grantee organizations participated in 45-minute telephone interviews. Interviewees represented organizations with the highest WWE enrollment at 6 months (n = 3, >30% of goal enrollment) and no enrollment at 6 months (n = 2). The Planning for Sustainability framework guided qualitative analysis of factors affecting early implementation.

RESULTS: All grantees were confident in WWE’s evidence base, thought it a beneficial supplement to other programming, stressed the importance of senior leadership support for WWE, and engaged community partners for marketing support and as walking sites. Implementation experiences unique to low enrollment grantees were (1) recent major structural changes within their organization, (2) difficulties in communicating logistics internally, and (3) difficulties in balancing WWE with other responsibilities. All organizations experienced barriers that required altering their original implementation plans; however, practical solutions like adapting the program to improve flexibility, training organizational staff as leaders, and utilizing community partnerships served to address multiple barriers simultaneously.

DISCUSSION: Building organizational capacity by overcoming early barriers is a key element of early implementation. Our findings offer concrete solutions to early WWE implementation barriers and suggest the need for further research on adaptations to improve WWE’s flexibility in community organizations.

PubMed Abstract

Vilen, L. H., Altpeter, M., & Callahan, L. F. (2021). Overcoming Barriers to Walk With Ease Implementation in Community Organizations. Health Promot Pract, 15248399211002851. doi:10.1177/15248399211002851