How do brochures encourage walking in natural environments in the UK? A content analysis
Health Promotion International
Oxford University Press
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Oxford University Press via the DOI in this record.
Although walking for leisure can support health, there has been little systematic attempt to consider how recreational walking is best promoted. In the UK, local authorities create promotional materials for walking networks, but little is known about whether they effectively encourage walking through persuasive messaging. Many of these materials pertain to walks in natural environments which evidence suggests are generally visited less frequently by physically inactive individuals. Consequently the present study explores whether and how recreational walking brochures use persuasive messages in their promotion of walks in natural environments. A coding taxonomy was developed to classify text in recreational walking brochures according to five behavioural content areas and 87 categories of potentially persuasive messages. Reliability of the taxonomy was ascertained and a quantitative content analysis was applied to 26 brochures collected from Devon, UK. Brochures often provided information about an advertised route, highlighted cultural and aesthetic points of interest, and provided directions. Brochures did not use many potentially effective messages. Text seldom prompted behaviour change or built confidence for walking. Social norm related information was rarely provided and there was a general lack of information on physical activity and its benefits for health and well-being. The limited range of message strategies used in recreational walking brochures may not optimally facilitate walking in natural environments for inactive people. Future research should examine the effects of theory-informed brochures on walking intentions and behaviour. The taxonomy could be adapted to suit different media and practices surrounding physical activity in natural environments.
This work was supported by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) doctoral studentship [Award Number: ES/J50015X/1] as part of the South-West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC) strategic partnership. It was also partly funded by the NIHR Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care of the South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC). The European Centre for Environment and Human Health is financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the ESRC, SWDTC, NIHR, UK Department of Health, ERDF or ESF. None of these were involved in data analysis or interpretation and bear no responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here.
First published online: October 29, 2016