Evaluation of the implementation of a whole-workplace walking programme using the RE-AIM framework

Background Promoting walking for the journey to/from work and during the working day is one potential approach to increase physical activity in adults. Walking Works was a practice-led, whole-workplace walking programme delivered by employees (walking champions). This study aimed to evaluate the implementation of Walking Works using the RE-AIM framework and provide recommendations for future delivery of whole-workplace walking programmes. Methods Two cross sectional surveys were conducted; 1,544 (28%) employees completed the baseline survey and 918 employees (21%) completed the follow-up survey. Effectiveness was assessed using baseline and follow-up data; reach, implementation and maintenance were assessed using follow-up data only. For categorical data, Chi square tests were conducted to assess differences between surveys or groups. Continuous data were analysed to test for significant differences using a Mann-Whitney U test. Telephone interviews were conducted with the lead organisation co-ordinator, eight walking champions and three business representatives at follow-up. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed to identify key themes related to adoption, implementation and maintenance. Results Adoption: Five workplaces participated in Walking Works. Reach: 480 (52.3%) employees were aware of activities and 221 (24.1%) participated. Implementation: A variety of walking activities were delivered. Some programme components were not delivered as planned which was partly due to barriers in using walking champions to deliver activities. These included the walking champions’ capacity, skills, support needs, ability to engage senior management, and the number and type of activities they could deliver. Other barriers included lack of management support, difficulties communicating information about activities and challenges embedding the programme into normal business activities. Effectiveness: No significant changes in walking to/from work or walking during the working day were observed. Maintenance: Plans to continue activities were mainly dependent on identifying continued funding. Conclusions RE-AIM provided a useful framework for evaluating Walking Works. No changes in walking behaviour were observed. This may have been due to barriers in using walking champions to deliver activities, programme components not being delivered as intended, the types of activities delivered, or lack of awareness and participation by employees. Recommendations are provided for researchers and practitioners implementing future whole-workplace walking programmes.