Ready to change - Promoting Community Readiness for Physical Activity among Older Adults

Unequal access is one important reason why preventive interventions may increase rather than reduce health inequalities between subpopulations. Community resources and networks (capacities) can play a key role in approaching diverse population groups. It has been demonstrated that tailoring physical activity (PA) interventions to stages of individual behaviour change may enhance intervention reach and effectiveness. The Community Readiness concept goes beyond the individual level and applies a stage model of change to the community level. According to this concept, a certain degree of problem awareness and preplanning in the community is needed for a health promotion intervention to be successfully implemented. It is therefore recommended to assess community readiness and, if necessary, increase it before starting an intervention. As community readiness enhancing strategies such as community coalition building and networking require a lot of time and resources from all partners, an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of these participatory approaches is needed.

However, even if community-based approaches increase the participation of vulnerable older adults in PA interventions, an analysis of factors for non-participation is necessary for a thorough understanding of how access barriers to health promotion can be reduced.


This study aims to the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of strategies to increase community readiness for PA intervention participation of vulnerable older adults in local environments. Furthermore, reasons for non-participation are explored.

Work programme

The work programme comprises four steps:

  1. A Community Readiness Assessment is conducted in 24 municipalities of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan region via semi-structured interviews with key informants.
  2. Community readiness enhancing activities are implemented in selected municipalities.
  3. A physical activity intervention is carried out in municipalities that did or did not implement readiness enhancing activities. It is then evaluated whether community readiness enhancing activities resulted in higher participation rates among vulnerable population groups.
  4. Qualitative interviews are conducted to explore reasons for (non-)participating in the physical activity intervention.

Research team

Prof. Dr. Hajo Zeeb, Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology – BIPS (Head of project)
Dr. Tilman Brand, Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology – BIPS
Dirk Gansefort, Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology – BIPS
Sabine Röseler, Gesundheitswirtschaft Nordwest e. V.
Tobias Ubert, Gesundheitswirtschaft Nordwest e. V.
Jochen Meyer, OFFIS – Institute for Information Technology
Prof. Susanne Boll, OFFIS – Institute for Information Technology
Elke Beck, OFFIS – Institute for Information Technology
Prof. Dr. Ingrid Darmann-Finck, Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP), University of Bremen
Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang, Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy, University of Bremen


Dirk Gansefort
Email: gansefort(at)bips.uni-bremen.de
Phone: +49 421 21856915