Decision-making for active living infrastructure in new communities: a qualitative study in England.
Journal of public health (Oxford, England) 2020
DOI : 10.1093/pubmed/fdz105
PubMed ID : 31565741
Urban design can influence population levels of physical activity and subsequent health impacts. This qualitative study investigates local level decision-making for 'active living' infrastructure (ALI)-walking and cycling infrastructure and open spaces in new communities.
Thirty-five semi-structured interviews with stakeholders, and limited ethnographic observations, were conducted with local government and private sector stakeholders including urban and transport planners, public health practitioners, elected councillors and developers. Interview transcripts were coded and analysed thematically.
Public health practitioners in local government could act as knowledge brokers and leaders to motivate non-health stakeholders such as urban and transport planners to consider health when designing and building new communities. They needed to engage at the earliest stages and be adequately resourced to build relationships across sectors, supporting non-health outcomes such as tackling congestion, which often had greater political traction. 'Evidence' for decision-making identified problems (going beyond health), informed solutions, and also justified decisions post hoc, although case study examples were not always convincing if not considered contextually relevant.
We have developed a conceptual model with three factors needed to bridge the gap between evidence and ALI being built: influential public health practitioners; supportive policies in non-health sectors; and adequate resources.