“The Environment Was Like They Were in the Pub But With No Alcohol” A Process Evaluation of Engagement and Sustainability in Men On The Move an Irish Community Based Physical Activity Intervention

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Steve Robertson
Paula Carroll
Alexandra Donohoe
Noel Richardson
Aisling Keohane
Liam Kelly
Harrison Michael


Community; Physical Activity; Men's Health; Process Evaluation; Engagement


Men’s health and life expectancy, particularly for those men from lower socioeconomic groups, remains an issue of concern in Ireland. This concern is reflected in the recent National Men’s Health Action Plan where important priority has been placed on finding appropriate ways to garner sustained involvement in health promotion interventions for men. Physical activity (PA) has been shown to be a useful ‘hook’ to assist with such engagement. ‘Men on the Move’ (MOM) is a 12 week, community-based, gender-sensitised, PA programme established as a pragmatic controlled trial and aimed at improving the health and well-being of inactive men. The programme was co-created with Local Sports Partnerships (LSP), delivered by experienced PA Coordinators (PACs), and often supported by local community champions.

This paper reports on the process evaluation of the MOM programme using data collected from focus groups with the LSP’s and those involved in delivering MOM from all eight counties that took part. Findings highlight the importance of negotiated partnerships at and between national and local levels in terms of providing support, consistent guidance and appropriately branded materials to the LSP’s. The underpinning inclusive ethos of MOM, embodied by the PAC’s, led to the creation of a fun, inclusive and comfortable atmosphere that helped sustain men’s involvement. This was aided by the use of male familiar settings through which to deliver the programme. While PA focused, findings here suggest a much wider impact on mental well-being and social connection and that this was achieved in a very cost-effective way. Importantly, men’s health training (ENGAGE) was a key factor in programme design and implementation assisting in building capacity among service providers to work with men. Joined up service provision and drawing on existing, trusted, local community networks were vital to recruiting men into the programme. Finally, the potential for MOM to signpost and offer an aftercare plan to community support for the men beyond the 12-week programme was noted as important particularly where there is increased need of these among more marginalised groups of men.

This process evaluation provides a good example of how health promotion interventions need to recognise and exploit the fact that health and well-being are integrally linked to the communities where people live out and experience their daily lives. Ensuring that MOM was embedded within existing community structures, and supported by community champions with the requisite skills and local knowledge, underpinned programme success and sustainability.

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