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Socio-Ecological Natural Experiment with Randomized Controlled Trial to Promote Active Commuting to Work: Process Evaluation, Behavioral Impacts, and Changes in the Use and Quality of Walking and Cycling Paths

1
UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, P.O. Box 30, 33501 Tampere, Finland
2
Department of Transport and Streets, City of Tampere, Frenckellinaukio 2, PL 487, 33101 Tampere, Finland
3
Department of Mobility and Transport, WSP Finland Ltd., Kelloportinkatu 1 D, 33100 Tampere, Finland
4
Centre for Exercise Nutrition and Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, University of Bristol, 8 Priory Road, Bristol BS81TZ, UK
5
Institute of Sport Science, University of Graz, Mozartgasse 14, 8010 Graz, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(9), 1661; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16091661
Received: 23 April 2019 / Revised: 8 May 2019 / Accepted: 9 May 2019 / Published: 13 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Collection Physical Activity and Public Health)
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Abstract

Active commuting to work (ACW) has beneficial effects on health, traffic, and climate. However, more robust evidence is needed on how to promote ACW. This paper reports the findings of a multilevel natural experiment with a randomized controlled trial in 16 Finnish workplaces. In Phase 1, 11 workplaces (1823 employees) from Area 1 were exposed to environmental improvements in walking and cycling paths. In Phase 2, five more workplaces (826 employees) were recruited from Area 2 and all workplaces were randomized into experimental group (EXP) promoting ACW with social and behavioral strategies and comparison group (COM) participating only in data collection. Process and impact evaluation with questionnaires, travel diaries, accelerometers, traffic calculations, and auditing were conducted. Statistics included Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test, Mann-Whitney U-test, and after-before differences with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). After Phase 1, positive change was seen in the self-reported number of days, which the employees intended to cycle part of their journey to work in the following week (p = 0.001). After Phase 2, intervention effect was observed in the proportion of employees, who reported willingness to increase walking (8.7%; 95% CI 1.8 to 15.6) and cycling (5.5%; 2.2 to 8.8) and opportunity to cycle part of their journey to work (5.9%; 2.1 to 9.7). To conclude, the intervention facilitated employees’ motivation for ACW, which is the first step towards behavior change. View Full-Text
Keywords: active travel; workplace; natural experiment; multilevel; intervention active travel; workplace; natural experiment; multilevel; intervention
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Aittasalo, M.; Tiilikainen, J.; Tokola, K.; Suni, J.; Sievänen, H.; Vähä-Ypyä, H.; Vasankari, T.; Seimelä, T.; Metsäpuro, P.; Foster, C.; Titze, S. Socio-Ecological Natural Experiment with Randomized Controlled Trial to Promote Active Commuting to Work: Process Evaluation, Behavioral Impacts, and Changes in the Use and Quality of Walking and Cycling Paths. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1661.

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