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The Healthy Primary School of the Future: A Contextual Action-Oriented Research Approach

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Department of Health Promotion, Care and Public Health Research Institute (CAPHRI), Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
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Department of Health Promotion, School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism (NUTRIM), Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
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Academic Collaborative Centre for Public Health Limburg, Public Health Services, P.O. Box 33, 6400 AA Heerlen, The Netherlands
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Department of Health Services Research, Care and Public Health Research Institute (CAPHRI), Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
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Department of Nutritional and Movement Sciences, Nutrition and Translational Research Institute Maastricht (NUTRIM), Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
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Department of Family Medicine, Care and Public Health Research Institute (CAPHRI), Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2243; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102243
Received: 6 September 2018 / Revised: 28 September 2018 / Accepted: 10 October 2018 / Published: 12 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pediatric Obesity Treatment and Prevention)
Background: Schools can play an important role in promoting children’s health behaviours. A Dutch initiative, ‘The Healthy Primary School of the Future’, aims to integrate health and well-being into the school system. We use a contextual action-oriented research approach (CARA) to study the implementation process. Properties of CARA are its focus on contextual differences and the use of monitoring and feedback to support and evaluate the process of change. The aim of this article is to describe the use of the approach. Methods: Four schools (each with 200–300 children, aged 4–12 years) were included; all located in low socio-economic status areas in the south of the Netherlands. Data collection methods include interviews, observations, questionnaires, and health and behavioural measurements. Research contributions include giving feedback and providing schools with a range of possibilities for additional changes. The contextual data we examine include schools’ health promoting elements, practices of teachers and parents, dominating organisational issues, and characteristics of the student population; process data include the presence of potential barriers to changes. Discussion: CARA is an adaptive research approach that generates knowledge and experiences on how to deal with health promotion in complex systems. We think this approach can set an example for research efforts in comparable initiatives. View Full-Text
Keywords: action research; context; complex systems; health and well-being; health-promoting school; monitoring and evaluation; primary school intervention action research; context; complex systems; health and well-being; health-promoting school; monitoring and evaluation; primary school intervention
MDPI and ACS Style

Bartelink, N.H.M.; Van Assema, P.; Jansen, M.W.J.; Savelberg, H.H.C.M.; Willeboordse, M.; Kremers, S.P.J. The Healthy Primary School of the Future: A Contextual Action-Oriented Research Approach. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 2243.

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