To build on a growing interest in community-based obesity prevention programs, methods are needed for matching intervention strategies to local needs and assets. We used the Community Readiness Model (CRM), a structured interview guide and scoring system, to assess community readiness to act on childhood obesity prevention, furthering a replication study of a successful intervention.
Using the CRM protocol, we conducted interviews with 4 stakeholders in each of 10 communities of similar size, socioeconomic status, and perceived readiness to implement a community-wide obesity prevention intervention. Communities were in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. The 4 stakeholders were the mayor or city manager, the school superintendent, the school food service director, and a community coalition representative. Interviews were recorded and professionally transcribed. Pairs of trained reviewers scored the transcriptions according to CRM protocol. The CRM assesses 9 stages of readiness for 6 dimensions: existing community efforts to prevent childhood obesity, community knowledge about the efforts, leadership, community climate, knowledge about the issue, and resources. We calculated an overall readiness score for each community from the dimension scores.
Overall readiness scores ranged from 2.97 to 5.36 on the 9-point scale. The mean readiness score, 4.28 (SD, 0.68), corresponds with a "preplanning" level of readiness. Of the 6 dimensions, community climate varied the least (mean score, 3.11; SD, 0.64); leadership varied the most (mean score, 4.79; SD, 1.13).
The CRM quantified a subjective concept, allowing for comparison among 10 communities. Dimension scores and qualitative data from interviews helped in the selection of 6 communities for a replication study.