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Evaluation of a program targeting sports coaches as deliverers of health-promoting messages to at-risk youth : assessing feasibility using a realist-informed approach

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Unequal access to health promotion resources and early prevention services is a major determinant of health inequity among youth. Initiatives that improve the access to and adoption of health promotion messages are important undertakings, e.g., sport. Sport-for-development (SFD) programs are seen as valuable delivery tools, in which coaches are used as change agents to increase health awareness and behavior among at-risk youth. The delivery of such messages requires specific knowledge and skills that can be attained through training; however, the effectiveness of such training requires assessment. In this study, we evaluated the feasibility of such a training program for SFD coaches using process evaluation from a realist perspective, and views from multiple stakeholders, among other sources. We also clarified the inner workings of the training and investigated how context shaped the training outcomes. Increased health awareness and a sense of responsibility from acting as a role model for at-risk youth were among the perceived training outcomes. Building a safe environment for learning, engagement, and bonds of trust increased the confidence to learn, and resulted in a sense of critical self-reflection and self-development of SFD coaches towards health and prevention messages. Importantly, the unique situations (or context) of SFD coaches and SFD in general presented challenging variables, e.g., a precarious life history or living conditions, mental health issues, or low educational skills, that hampered the impact of the mechanisms put in place by the training. Here, we present a process in which the development of the 'right mind-set,' engagement and bonds of trust, in combination with the right settings are key elements for SFD coaches to learn how to convey health-promoting messages and take responsibility as role models for at-risk youth.
Journal: PLoS ONE
Issue: 9
Volume: 15
Number of pages: 1
Publication year:2020