Introduction: Levels of physical activity and active travel are low in Ireland. The strong tendency to use the car (driving culture) in Ireland places a considerable burden on public health. Increasing active travel may increase overall physical activity levels in adults. The workplace is an appropriate setting to target to change behavior. The primary purpose of this research was to evaluate the success of a workplace physical activity intervention and examine the important factors to implementing workplace travel plans in Ireland. Methods: Study 1 evaluates a 12-month physical activity and active travel intervention in a large workplace across Kilkenny City, using a mixed-methods approach. Seasonally matched repeat cross-sectional surveys (paper or online) were collected in five workplace sites at baseline (June 2017) and follow-up (June 2018). Manual counts were recorded in all five sites at baseline and follow-up to supplement the surveys. Manual counts were conducted at peak travel times to work (7:30am-9:30am and 4:30pm-6:30pm, respectively). A process evaluation was carried out in May 2019 with two key personnel in the delivery of the intervention to help understand the implementation process of the delivered intervention with two key personnel. A qualitative analysis was carried out for Study 2 with interviewees across Ireland with employees in both public and private sectors. Semi-structured interviews were carried out from April 2017 to February 2018. Results: In Study 1, a total of 217 respondents (baseline) and 220 respondents (follow-up) completed the self-report survey across all five workplace sites. At baseline, 56% (n=121) of respondents were meeting the National Physical Activity Guidelines. Following the intervention, there was a significant increase in physical activity behavior with 69.4% (n=152) of respondents meeting the guidelines (p<0.05). Over 90% of respondents travelled to work by car at both time points. Males has a significantly higher intention to cycle to work compared to females (p<0.05). Males were also more likely to automatically use the car travelling to work (p<0.05). Understanding behavior change, the role of the committee and meeting the intervention objectives were some of the main factors which impacted on the implementation. In Study 2, the driving culture in Ireland was widely acknowledged. The need for parking management strategies when implementing workplace travel plans was a highly emotive topic. Moving forward, workplaces need to take a more pragmatic and practical approach to promote sustainable travel. Discussion: Although there were significant improvements seen at follow-up, the low-dose intervention has many implications. A further understanding of the strategies required to implement successful workplace physical activity interventions in Ireland is needed. In order to implement successful workplace travel plans and improve the research in Ireland, the need to understand the workplace environment, identifying key drivers of the plan and the importance of employee engagement are all crucial factors.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2019|
- Behaviour change, Workplace physical activity