ACTION RESEARCH: UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AN ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALL IN THE COMMUNITY HEALTH IMPROVEMENT INTERVENTION
This thesis outlines research undertaken by formal collaboration between Everton Football Club’s Football in the Community (FitC) scheme; Everton in the Community (EitC) and Liverpool John Moores University.\ud \ud In recent years, there has been recognition of the influence that English Premier League football clubs can have in attending to the health improvement agenda through football-based community-coaching interventions. Few FitC programmes have suitable evaluation procedures in place, there remains limited evaluative empirical evidence. \ud \ud Study 1 (reconnaissance phases) adopted multi-method approach within an action research framework to explore the effectiveness of a health improvement intervention for children (June 2006-July 2007). Results showed most children had a fun and enjoyable time, however there were some negative comments regarding coaching practice. Strategic and operational issues were highlighted that limited the effectiveness of the intervention. \ud \ud Study 2 (action planning) adopted a focus group meeting approach to disseminate the findings from Study 1 with senior management of EitC to reflect, discuss and highlight change strategies to improve the effectiveness of future health improvement interventions. \ud \ud Study 3 (implementation and monitoring phase) extended the principles of ethnography adopted throughout the thesis in line with action research to facilitate the change strategy within EitC on behalf of senior management. Results highlight individual, social, political, ethical and contextual barriers emerged during the facilitation of the change strategy, leading to the shift in key change person (i.e., gatekeepers) from senior management to a community coach. Positive changes were achieved, although not the initial change strategy agreed.\ud \ud Key findings highlight the usefulness of ethnographic approaches in understanding and facilitating the complexity of change involved in action research. It is recommended that commissioners should encourage FitC programmes to engage in evaluation and organisational development initiatives.
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