Engaging stakeholders and target groups in prioritising a public health intervention: the Creating Active School Environments (CASE) online Delphi study

Katie L. Morton, Andrew J. Atkin, Kirsten Corder, Marc Suhrcke, David Turner, Esther M. F. van Sluijs

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36 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: Stakeholder engagement and public involvement are considered as integral to developing effective public health interventions and is encouraged across all phases of the research cycle. However, limited guidelines and appropriate tools exist to facilitate stakeholder engagement– especially during the intervention prioritisation phase. We present the findings of an online ‘Delphi’ study that engaged stakeholders (including young people) in the process of prioritising secondary school-environment focused interventions that aim to increase physical activity.

Setting: Web-based data collection using an online Delphi tool enabling participation of geographically diverse stakeholders.

Participants: 37 stakeholders participated, including young people (age 13-16 years), parents, teachers, public health practitioners, academics and commissioners; 33 participants completed both rounds.

Primary and secondary outcome measures: Participants were asked to prioritise a (short-listed) selection of school-environment focused interventions (e.g., standing desks, outdoor design changes) based on the criteria of ‘reach’, ‘equality’, ‘acceptability’, ‘feasibility’, ‘effectiveness’, and ‘cost’. Participants were also asked to rank the criteria and the effectiveness outcomes (e.g., ‘physical activity’, ‘academic achievement’, ‘school enjoyment’) from most to least important. Following feedback along with any new information provided, participants completed Round 2 four weeks later.

Results: The intervention prioritisation process was feasible to conduct and comments from participants indicated satisfaction with the process. Consensus regarding intervention strategies was achieved among the varied groups of stakeholders, with ‘active lessons’ being the favoured approach. Participants ranked ‘mental health and well-being’ as the most important outcome followed by ‘enjoyment of school’. The most important criteria was ‘effectiveness’, followed by ‘feasibility’.

Conclusions: This novel approach to engaging a wide variety of stakeholders in the research process was feasible to conduct and acceptable to participants. It also provided insightful information relating to how stakeholders prioritise interventions. The approach could be extended beyond the specific project to be a useful tool for researchers and practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere013340
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Public engagement
  • public engagement
  • stakeholder engagement
  • Delphi
  • physical activity
  • school health
  • adolescent health

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