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Levels of Community Change: A Game to Teach About Policy, System, and Environment Change

Published:December 15, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2017.10.004
      Health promotion organizations increasingly encourage multilevel, multisector interventions, because such approaches can produce more widespread and sustainable impacts than individual behavior change efforts alone.
      • Bunnell R.
      • O'Neill D.
      • Soler R.
      • et al.
      Fifty communities putting prevention to work: accelerating chronic disease prevention through policy, systems, and environmental change.
      Many public health agencies and foundations recommend or require that funded projects include policy, system, and environment (PSE) change activities. Growing numbers of health coalitions and youth advocacy programs inspire members to implement community-level changes. The Cooperative Extension System, which includes the 4-H Youth Development Program, has adopted a National Framework for Health and Wellness
      • Braun B.
      • Bruns K.
      • Cronk L.
      • et al.
      Cooperative extension's national framework health and wellness.
      calling for strategies informed by the social ecological model (SEM) principle that behavior is influenced by multiple interacting factors.
      • Sallis J.F.
      • Cervero R.B.
      • Ascher W.
      • et al.
      An ecological approach to creating active living communities.
      • Sallis J.F.
      • Glanz K.
      Physical activity and food environments: solutions to the obesity epidemic.
      • Sallis J.F.
      • Owen N.
      Ecological models of health behavior.
      • Stokols D.
      Translating social ecological theory into guidelines for community health promotion.
      In reality, however, practitioners often lack familiarity with and confidence in applying PSE change strategies or find terms such as policy change daunting.
      • Smathers C.A.
      • Lobb J.M.
      Extension professionals and community coalitions: professional development opportunities related to leadership and policy, system, and environment change.
      Recognizing that educational games convey and reinforce knowledge,
      • Magnus M.
      Nutritional science jeopardy.
      • Person A.L.
      • Colby S.E.
      • Eubanks J.W.
      Nutritionopoly: let healthy choices “monopolize” your lifestyle.
      an interactive game was developed to help practitioners identify various PSE strategies, understand basic tenets of the SEM, and explore ways to initiate PSE changes. Feedback from 94% of 118 nutrition educators who engaged in the game (n = 111) supports the efficacy of the game in meeting these objectives and points to the feasibility of its use with various groups.
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