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An Adaptive Community-Based Participatory Approach to Formative Assessment With High Schools for Obesity Intervention


  • Indicates CHES and Nursing continuing education hours are available. Also available at:

  • This project was supported in part or in whole by the following: La Tierra Sagrada Society Grant; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health Grant R21 HL092533; and the University of New Mexico Pediatrics Research Allocation Committee Grant. Dr Kong's effort was also supported in part by the National Institutes of Health Grant KL2-RR031976. We would like to acknowledge the contributions from all the participating schools and Mary Ramos, MD, MPH, from the New Mexico Department of Health, Office of School and Adolescent Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Alberta S. Kong, Assistant Professor, (, Department of Pediatrics, MSC10 5590, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001.


BACKGROUND: In the emerging debate around obesity intervention in schools, recent calls have been made for researchers to include local community opinions in the design of interventions. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an effective approach for forming community partnerships and integrating local opinions. We used CBPR principles to conduct formative research in identifying acceptable and potentially sustainable obesity intervention strategies in 8 New Mexico school communities.

METHODS: We collected formative data from 8 high schools on areas of community interest for school health improvement through collaboration with local School Health Advisory Councils (SHACs) and interviews with students and parents. A survey based on formative results was created to assess acceptability of specific intervention strategies and was provided to SHACs. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics while qualitative data were evaluated using an iterative analytic process for thematic identification.

RESULTS: Key themes identified through the formative process included lack of healthy food options, infrequent curricular/extracurricular physical activity opportunities, and inadequate exposure to health/nutritional information. Key strategies identified as most acceptable by SHAC members included healthier food options and preparation, a healthy foods marketing campaign, yearly taste tests, an after-school noncompetitive physical activity program, and community linkages to physical activity opportunities.

CONCLUSION: An adaptive CBPR approach for formative assessment can be used to identify obesity intervention strategies that address community school health concerns. Eight high school SHACs identified 6 school-based strategies to address parental and student concerns related to obesity.