Move the north: evaluation of a regional stakeholder engagement initiative to support the development of a community-partnered physical activity research agenda Pelletier, Chelsea; Pousette, Anne; Fox, Gloria; Keahey, Robin; Ward, Kirsten; Faulkner, Guy; Rasali, Drona; Allison, Sandra
Background: Although it is generally accepted that engaging with members of the public contributes to more actionable and relevant research, there are a limited number of reported evaluations of community engagement initiatives. Certain populations, such as those with lower socioeconomic status and those who live in rural or dispersed communities, tend to face increased barriers to engagement. For researchers and community members alike, it is important to understand and evaluate engagement initiatives to support participatory research methods, particularly when working with underserved or hard to reach populations. Methods: Over 2-days in October 2018, we hosted a Research Agenda Development Workshop and Physical Activity Summit with relevant researchers, health professionals, and community partners. The objectives of this initiative were to develop a physical activity research agenda based on community-identified priorities, create networking opportunities, and understand factors impacting physical activity participation in communities across northern British Columbia (BC). An evaluation plan was created early in the planning process to understand the reach of the event based on representation targets. Stakeholder satisfaction with the event was evaluated with a post-meeting survey. Results: The event was successful in engaging community members from a broad geographic region with at least 90 people in attendance from 11 different northern BC communities, representing 46 different organizations. Meeting attendees indicated they were satisfied with the event and felt their perspectives were heard. To advance physical activity in the region, the most commonly desired outcome from the event was the need for ongoing communication channels to support knowledge translation and capacity building in the low-resourced communities of northern BC. There were some gaps in representation targets present at the event. Namely, there were a limited number of people representing Indigenous organizations, and the education and private sectors. Conclusions: This two-day event was successful at achieving its objectives and engaged a diverse group of stakeholders from a broad geographic region. The outcomes from this event are being used to develop a community-partnered physical activity research agenda and contribute to ongoing learning by the research team to understand contextual factors influencing physical activity in the communities of northern BC. This model of engagement could be used by other researchers interested in engaging with a diverse, multi-sector group of academics, health professionals and community members to support community-centered population health research.
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