Formative research conducted in rural Appalachia to inform a community physical activity intervention

Tina M. Kruger, Mark Swanson, Rian E. Davis, Sherry Wright, Katie Dollarhide, Nancy E. Schoenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: Despite the well-established benefits of physical activity (PA), most Americans, especially those in rural, traditionally underserved areas, engage in considerably less PA than recommended. This study examines perceived barriers to and facilitators of PA and promising organized PA programs among rural Appalachians. Design: Eight focus groups and seven group key informant interviews were conducted. Setting: This study was conducted in eastern Kentucky, in central Appalachia. Subjects: One hundred and fourteen rural Appalachian residents (74% female, 91% white) participated. Measures: Open-ended, semistructured, and structured questions regarding perceptions of, barriers to/facilitators of, and examples of successful/failed PA programs were asked. Analysis: Qualitative data analysis was conducted, including codebook development and steps taken to ensure rigor and transferability. Interrater reliability was over 94%. Results: In addition to barriers that are consistent with those found in other populations, rural Appalachian residents indicated that travel time, family commitments, and inadequate community resources undermine PA. Suggested avenues to increase PA include partnership with churches and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative Extension Service; programs that include families, are well advertised, and focus on health rather than appearance; and, underlying all suggestions, culturally relevant yet nonstereotyping activities. Conclusions: When developing PA interventions in rural Appalachia, it is important to employ community-based participatory approaches that leverage unique assets of the population and show potential in overcoming challenges to PA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Appalachia
  • Community-based research
  • Physical activity
  • Prevention research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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