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A decision-support tool for physical activity strategies

University of Sydney

  • Cardiovascular Early-Mid Career Researcher Grant
Date Funded:
  • 1 February, 2022
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Associate Professor Ding (Melody) Ding

Project Summary

By co-designing a decision-support tool, we will guide policymakers in implementing the best strategies to promote physical activity in NSW.

The main researcher for this project is Associate Professor Ding (Melody) Ding.

What is the issue for NSW?

Physical inactivity is one of the most important contributors to cardiovascular disease and pre-mature death. Despite the exponential increase in volume of research, population physical activity remains low in NSW and Australia in general. Research reveals that several major limitations have contributed to the misalignment between evidence generation and sustained community and policy impact. These include:

  1. framing physical activity solely as a health issue, which means missed opportunities to engage non-health sectors where solutions to physical inactivity lie
  2. a lack of understanding of the complex systems of physical activity
  3. a lack of co-designed and co-produced evidence and solutions.

Promoting sustainable improvement in population physical activity in NSW requires understanding the ‘whole of system’ of physical activity and collaborating with decision makers across sectors and agencies to find upstream solutions.

What does the research aim to do and how?

Through co-production of a physical activity intervention toolbox, a system map and a system dynamics model, this study aims to:

  1. identify effective physical activity interventions that could be implemented ‘at scale’ in NSW, and the potential health, environmental, social and economic co-benefits of these interventions
  2. map the systems that influences physical activity in NSW to understand the system, stakeholders, root-causes, and potential solutions
  3. design and disseminate a system dynamics model decision support tool to facilitate engagement and interaction by decision makers and end-users.