AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY OF A FAMILY-BASED OBESITY PREVENTION PROGRAM
Beck, Ashley Dawn
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The development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based programs are fundamental priorities for the field of prevention science and of growing focus for public health research. Little research directly addresses how to approach program development as an organization or provides information about how to promote effective collaborative relationships between researchers and practitioners. Many studies (Berkel, Mauricio, Schoenfelder & Sandler, 2010; Castro, Barrera, Martinez, 2004; Wandersman, Duffy, Flaspohler, Noonan et al., 2008) have called for an integrated approach to program development, utilizing key principles from top-down and bottom-up approaches that would also address many factors that have been found to impact the quality of implementing evidence-based programs. The current study describes a case study of the development of the SEEDS program, a family-based obesity prevention program for preschool-age children and their mothers, which utilized an integrated approach to program development. The lessons learned throughout the process of developing SEEDS and recommendations of team members are discussed in the current study, and are integrated into a proposed model of program development. The proposed integrated model of program development aims to integrate research and practice by utilizing the university extension system and promoting collaboration between research and extension faculty. The proposed model incorporates recommendations from the literature on high-quality program implementation, program planning and evaluation that can be applied during program development, increasing the chance for program success. The proposed model presents eight stages of program development including: project planning and proposal, community needs assessment, establishing program theory and rationale, develop curriculum, pilot program curriculum, revise curriculum, efficacy trial-research implementation, and finally dissemination of program. Each of the proposed stages are discussed, as well as their relationship to the literature and the experiences of the SEEDS project. Strengths and limitations to the proposed integrated approach to development as well as future considerations for research and extension collaborations are also discussed.