Active School Travel Intervention Methodologies in North America: A Systematic Review

Most North American (Canada & U.S.) children are not achieving their prescribed levels of daily physical activity. Active school travel (AST), that is walking or wheeling to/from school, is an accessible way for many children to increase their participation in daily physical activity, and subsequently improve their overall health and well-being. In this manuscript “Active School Travel Intervention Methodologies in North America: A Systematic Review”, HEAL researchers Adrian Buttazzoni, Tayyab I. Shah and Jason A. Gilliland, as well as HEAL graduate Emily S. Van Kesteren, document and discuss the conception, employment, and evaluation of different AST interventions that have been implemented in North America. Through searching six different databases (BIOSIS Previews, GeoBase, SCOPUS, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science) 22 studies published between January 2010 and March 2017 were identified, collated, and analyzed.

Interventions were thematically assessed for their structure and organization, approaches and methods, and outcomes and discussions based on the “6 E’s” (Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering, Equity, and Evaluation) framework developed by the Safe Routes to School program. Findings suggest that encouragement and education were the most commonly observed themes within the different methodologies of the studies reviewed, and that details relating to intervention approaches and methods were common. However, information relating to intervention structure and organization received much less attention. The discussion is framed in the Multiple Streams Approach and offers suggestions and considerations for both AST intervention facilitators and evaluators.

Adrian Buttazzoni is a master’s student in the Faculty of Health Sciences and a research associate working on the Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) project. Emily S. Van Kesteren is public health nurse with the Middlesex London Health Unit. Dr. Tayyab Shah is a postdoctoral research associate under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland in the Department of Geography at the Western University. Dr. Jason Gilliland is Director of the HEAL, a scientist with the Children’s Health Research Institute, and Professor of Geography, Paediatrics, Health Sciences, and Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Western University.

“Active School Travel Intervention Methodologies in North America: A Systematic Review” was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

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Keywords: Active and Safe Routes to School, active school travel, children’s health, physical activity, school intervention, school travel planning

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