Healthy eating and active living policy, systems, and environmental changes in rural Louisiana: a contextual inquiry to inform implementation strategies
Background Healthy eating and active living policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes are implemented across the United States through Cooperative Extension. However, translating multisector PSE changes to practice in community settings is challenging and there is a lack of knowledge about barriers and facilitators to PSE changes among state Extension systems using standardized frameworks. Therefore, a research-to-practice partnership effort aimed to identify Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Science (LFCS) practitioners’ barriers and facilitators to implementing PSE changes in rural Louisiana communities.
Methods A qualitative approach using the 2022 Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (2022 CFIR) was used. Focus group discussions were conducted at five LFCS regional trainings between February and May 2022. All LFCS practitioners with any level of experience implementing healthy eating and active living PSE changes were eligible to participate, with emphasis on understanding efforts within more rural communities. Focus group discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Researchers analyzed qualitative data using the constant comparison method and 2022 CFIR domains and constructs including Inner Setting (LFCS organization), Outer Setting (rural Louisiana communities), Innovation (PSE changes), and Individuals (PSE change implementation actors/partners). Results Across the five regions, LFCS practitioners (n = 40) described more barriers (n = 210) than facilitators (n = 100); findings were often coded with multiple 2022 CFIR domains. Reported Inner Setting barriers were lack of formal or informal information sharing and lack of access to knowledge and information. Outer Setting barriers included sustaining and initiating community partnerships and local environmental or political conditions. Individual barriers included a lack of time and expertise, and Innovation barriers included the complex nature of rural PSE changes. Facilitators were mentioned at multiple levels and included community partner buy-in and practitioners’ motivation to implement PSE changes. Conclusions Implementation strategies are needed to build on organizational strengths and to overcome multi-level barriers to PSE change implementation among LFCS practitioners. The results from the in-depth contextual inquiry used could serve as a guide for future pragmatic assessment efforts among other state Extension systems or as a model for identifying barriers and facilitators and associated implementation strategies among other public health systems in the U.S. and abroad.