Assessing participants' perceptions on group-based principles for action in community-based health enhancing physical activity programmes : The APEF tool

Herens, Marion; Wagemakers, Annemarie


In community-based health enhancing physical activity (CBHEPA) programmes, group-based principles for action such as active participation, enjoyment, and fostering group processes are widely advocated. However, not much is known about participants' perceptions of these principles as there are no assessment tools available. Therefore, this article describes the development of the APEF (Active Participation, Enjoyment, and Fostering group processes) tool and reports on its implementation in a Dutch CBHEPA programme. Indicators for the principles have been identified from literature research, interviews with professionals, and secondary analysis of three group interviews with 11 practitioners. To address the identified indicators, the APEF tool was developed, pretested, and used in 10 focus groups with 76 participants. The APEF tool consists of eight statements about group-based principles for action, on which CBHEPA participants vote, followed by in-depth discussion. The voting procedure engages participants. Spider diagrams visualise participants' perceptions of group-based principles. The APEF tool addresses the challenge of relating group level outcomes to individual outcomes such as physical activity behaviour. The tool facilitates as well as evaluates group-based principles for action, it stimulates dialogue and is culturally sensitive, but it needs strong facilitating skills to manage group dynamics.