Online Program

Use of Environment and Policy Assessment Observation (EPAO) Tool in Afterschool Settings to Support Policy and Environment Change

Monday, November 2, 2015

Karen Kemper, MSPH, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
Alicia Powers, PhD, Department of Health Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC
Sarah Pate, BS, Physical Therapy Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Melissa Fair, MPH, Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Mary Jackman, Department of Health Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC
Rebekah Shealy, Department of Pubic Health Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
After-school programs are important settings to promote behaviors consistent with healthy body weights among children. The National Afterschool Alliance recommends nutrition and physical activity (PA) standards and policies for afterschool programs. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of an afterschool initiative targeting nutrition and PA environments and policies in afterschool programs using the Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation (EPAO) tool.

A non-experimental, pre-post study was conducted in afterschool programs in the southeast. Participating programs included schools, community recreation centers, faith-based centers, and private centers. Participants were recruited into the afterschool initiative over a three-year period. The initiative consisted of initial and post self-assessments of policies and environments, technical assistance supporting goal setting, educational trainings, PA and healthy eating resources, and networking. The EPAO instrument was used to measure PA and nutrition behaviors of children and staff, environmental attributes, and nutrition and PA policies. Trained data collectors completed pre- and post-intervention EPAO measures during two afternoon site observations. Data were scored and grouped into sub-categories of nutrition and PA. Paired t-test analysis was conducted to determine if significant changes occurred.

The EPAO was completed in twenty afterschool programs. Sixteen programs were included in the final analysis. Preliminary analysis indicate positive changes across several nutrition and physical activity sub-category scores and significant positive changes in total nutrition scores (p<.05).

Interventions targeting environments and polices in afterschool settings can have a positive impact on healthy nutrition and physical activity practices among children.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe the purpose and procedures of the Environment Assessment and Policy Observation tool in assessing afterschool programs List 5 nutrition and physical activity best practices for afterschool settings. Discuss opportunities and challenges for policy change in afterschool settings.

Keyword(s): Nutrition, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal or co-investigator for multiple federally funded and state funded grants examining physical activity or nutrition in youth.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.