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Five-City Panel Study on Walking: Waves One through Four

To test the effectiveness of its walking campaign, AARP, in collaboration with ICR/International Communications Research, designed both a population-level and an individual-level evaluation across five southern U. S. cities—Richmond VA, Raleigh NC, Columbia SC, Little Rock AK, and Montgomery AL—all with similar socio-economic characteristics.

The Five-City walking pilot was designed and implemented in Richmond, one of the two Active for Life TM demonstration sites. The four additional sites served to test the effectiveness of different elements of a walking program: media only (Raleigh), media with step-counters (Columbia), media with peer support (Little Rock), and media with both step-counters and peer support (Montgomery).

These four reports focus only on the population-level research and highlight changes over time in knowledge, attitudes, awareness, and behavior concerning walking and other physical activity among respondents in the five surveyed cities.

A representative sample of adults age 50 and over residing in the selected cities were surveyed by telephone in four separate waves:

  • Wave One (baseline interviews) in June 2004—before the start of the media campaign
  • Wave Two in July and August 2004—after the media campaign but before the start of the ten-week walking programs
  • Wave Three in September and October 2004—at the conclusion of the walking programs
  • Wave Four in April and May 2005—six months after the conclusion of the walking programs.

Some highlights:

  • Awareness of the walking campaign increased significantly during the course of the 10-week program, and then continued to increase even after the campaign ended.
  • Message recall increased significantly during the course of the research project and remained high even six months later. Sponsor recall, however, was low during all four waves of the survey.
  • Knowledge of the prescription to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate exercise per session remained fairly constant over time.
  • There was a significant increase between waves one and four in Richmond, Columbia, Montgomery, and Raleigh in the percentage of respondents rating the suitability of their cities for walking as excellent, very good, or good.
  • The percentage of respondents reporting they recalled the ads designed to increase physical activity significantly increased from wave one (40%) to wave three (43%) to wave four (52%).
  • There were no significant changes across waves in regard to walking, with approximately six in ten respondents saying they had walked for at least 30 minutes one or more days in the previous week.

International Communications Research (ICR) collected the data for these reports. Teresa Ann Keenan (202-434-6274) of AARP Knowledge Management wrote the reports for Waves One, Two, and Three and Laura Skufca (202-434-6285) also of AARP Knowledge Management wrote the Wave Four report. For more information contact the authors.

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